NBC10.com- Rosemary Connors
Bikers from across the city gather to honor a Philadelphia firefighter who lost his life on the job. NBC10's Rosemary Connors has the details.
Battalion Chief Michael Goodwin died doing what he loved, his son said in a brief, emotional appearance by the family outside the fallen firefighter's home today.
"My dad was a loving man, a caring man, a hard worker, a Navy man, a church-going man," said his son, Michael Goodwin, Jr. The 26-year-old spoke for his family, who were at his side.
"He taught me everything I need to know to be a man and now I feel I'm better because of that," said his son.
Goodwin, 53, died when a roof collapsed beneath him Saturday. Goodwin was fighting a fire inside a fabric store on 4th Street, known as Fabric Row in South Philadelphia.
"The only thing Mikey Goodwin loved more than his family was our job," said Bill Gault, head of Local 22, the union for firefighters. Gault and Goodwin grew up together.
"It's not really a job, it's a calling. This is what we do," Gault said. "Sometimes we pay the ultimate sacrifice. Mikey was prepared. Knowing Mikey as good as I know him, he's probably glad it was him and not the other guy."
Fellow firefighter Andrew Godlewski tried to rescue Goodwin that day and suffered burns on his hands. The 28-year-old Godlewski was released from the hospital on Sunday.
Goodwin, who was with the fire department for 29 years, is being given a posthumous promotion from Captain of Ladder 27 to Battalion Chief. He recently passed the test required for promotion.
Executive Fire Chief Richard Davison says the promotion will allow Goodwin to retire at the higher rank, enhancing his family's benefits.
Goodwin is the third Philadelphia firefighter killed in the line of duty within the past year. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Kensingon Warehouse fire which killed Lt. Robert Neary, 60, and firefighter Daniel Sweeney, 25.
Outside of Goodwin's Ladder 27 fire station in South Philadelphia a makeshift memorial of flowers and even toy firetrucks grows as people stop by to remember Goodwin.
"We're getting absolute love and support from everyone all over the city," said Goodwin's son. "My mother, sister, his grandchildren and I would like to ask you to continue to support and keep the family in your prayers in this difficult time ahead."
A tribute celebrating Goodwin's life will be held on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at John F. Givnish Funeral Home on 10975 Academy Road. Goodwin's memorial service will take place Thursday at noon at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on 2139 E. Cumberland Street in Kensington. He will then be buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn, Pa.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Goodwin's memory should be sent to the Firefighters Widow Fund, Local 22, 415 N. 5th Street Philadelphia, Pa. 19123. You can also share your memories of Captain Goodwin by visiting the Life Celebration website.
Gov. Tom Corbett ordered state flags in Pennsylvania to be flown at half-staff through Wednesday in Goodwin's memory. Mayor Michael Nutter already called for city flags to be lowered to half-staff.
Saturday's fire appeared to have started in the fabric store downstairs before spreading to upstairs apartments and a neighboring boutique, the store's owner said. The proprietors of both stores told The Philadelphia Inquirer that everyone in both buildings at the time of the fire managed to escape.
The fire's cause has not been determined, but Bruce Blumenthal, the owner of Jack B. Fabrics, said he believes it started in a wall and may have been electrical in nature.
Blumenthal said he smelled smoke coming from the basement around 5 p.m. and found a box of collars and cuffs on fire. He tried to put the flames out with an extinguisher, to no avail.