Northeast Times

Anguish

A fam­ily in des­pair: Kelly Good­win, wife of Capt. Mi­chael Good­win, holds her grand­son, Timothy Dunn, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence two days after her hus­band’s death. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

— The City of Phil­adelphia mourns the loss of Fire Capt. Mi­chael Good­win of Park­wood, who per­ished in a fab­ric shop blaze in Queen Vil­lage.

A vase of ra­di­ant yel­low flowers ad­orned the bow win­dow of Cap­tain Mi­chael R. Good­win’s tidy brick row home on Monday morn­ing, a stark con­trast to the red rib­bons that hung at his stoop, and out­side the oth­er houses along tiny Fri­ar Place in Park­wood.

Red, a uni­ver­sal sym­bol of cour­age and sac­ri­fice, had come to rep­res­ent those qual­it­ies and more for the fam­ily and friends of Good­win, the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment lad­der com­pany com­mand­er who per­ished on Sat­urday while bat­tling a blaze at a South Philly fab­ric store.

The rib­bons, as well as the red porch lights in use by many res­id­ents of the cul-de-sac, re­flec­ted the bright red paint of the fire trucks that Mike Good­win loved to op­er­ate and they demon­strated the solid­ar­ity of a com­munity in the throes of grief.

“My fath­er, Chief Mike Good­win, served the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia for 29 years as a ded­ic­ated fire­fight­er,” said Mike Good­win Jr., the fire­fight­er’s 26-year-old son, in a pub­lic state­ment on be­half of the fam­ily.

“He was also a de­voted hus­band, fath­er and grand­fath­er. My moth­er, sis­ter, his grand­chil­dren and I would like to ask and thank you to con­tin­ue to sup­port and keep the fam­ily in your pray­ers and hearts dur­ing these dif­fi­cult days ahead.”

Mike Sr. was 53. Al­though he held the rank of cap­tain at the time of his death, the fire de­part­ment has an­nounced that it will pro­mote him to bat­talion chief posthum­ously. But fam­ily and fel­low fire­fight­ers re­mem­ber him more for the qual­it­ies of his char­ac­ter than the dec­or­a­tions he wore on his uni­form.

“My dad was a lov­ing man, a caring man, a hard work­er, a Navy man, a church-go­ing man,” Mike Jr. said. “He taught me everything I need to know to be a man and now I’m bet­ter be­cause of that. He died do­ing what he loved, fight­ing fires and serving this city.”

“The only thing Mikey Good­win loved [like] his fam­ily was our job,” said Bill Gault, the pres­id­ent of the city’s fire­fight­ers uni­on and a child­hood friend of the eld­er Good­win. “We’re a broth­er­hood. We’re still griev­ing. We’ll be griev­ing for a long time.”

Good­win is sur­vived by his wife, Kelly, adult daugh­ter, Dorothy Dunn, and son Mi­chael Jr., as well as his moth­er, Eliza­beth, two broth­ers, a sis­ter, two grand­chil­dren and many oth­er re­l­at­ives and friends.

Good­win be­came the 289th Phil­adelphia fire­fight­er killed in the line of duty since the in­cep­tion of the city’s pro­fes­sion­al fire de­part­ment in 1870. Good­win’s April 6 death pre­ceded by three days the first an­niversary of the deaths of Lt. Robert Neary and Fire­fight­er Daniel Sweeney in the af­ter­math of a fire at a va­cant Kens­ing­ton ware­house.

Good­win suffered fatal in­jur­ies when the roof of the three-story fab­ric shop col­lapsed be­neath his feet and he fell in­to the burn­ing build­ing amid oth­er fall­ing debris, fire of­fi­cials said. The cap­tain was on duty at South Philly’s Lad­der 27 at about 5:30 p.m. Sat­urday when flames broke out at Jack B. Fab­rics on the 700 block of S. Fourth St. in the Queen Vil­lage sec­tion.

The first en­gine com­pany at the scene re­por­ted heavy smoke on the first two floors, ac­cord­ing to Fire Com­mis­sion­er Lloyd Ay­ers, who spoke to the news me­dia that night. With the build­ing still in­volved in flames, the de­part­ment struck a second alarm at 6:04. At 6:21, Ay­ers said, su­per­visors learned “we had a mem­ber that was down.” Soon after, that mem­ber and a second were re­por­ted “miss­ing.”

Good­win had fallen from the roof to the up­per floor of the build­ing. Fire­fight­er An­drew Go­dlewski tried to pull him from the in­ferno and suffered burns to his hand. The de­part­ment struck a third alarm at 6:30 p.m. The flames burnt out of con­trol un­til 9 p.m. Good­win died be­fore res­cuers could reach him. Go­dlewski was treated at Thomas Jef­fer­son Uni­versity Hos­pit­al, re­leased and is ex­pec­ted to re­cov­er.

The fab­ric shop and neigh­bor­ing busi­nesses were oc­cu­pied when the fire began, but all ci­vil­ians es­caped without in­jury. Sev­en­teen area res­id­ents were dis­placed, the Amer­ic­an Red Cross said. The fire’s cause re­mains un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion by the fire mar­shal’s of­fice.

Gault, the uni­on pres­id­ent, con­tends that the volume of flam­mable ma­ter­i­al in­side the build­ing, as well as the age of the prop­erty and its con­fig­ur­a­tion on a nar­row street con­trib­uted to the tragedy. 

“We still have fire traps in these cit­ies that haven’t been taken care of. They’re still out there and when the bell rings, we’re still go­ing to an­swer the call,” Gault said. 

It was “a typ­ic­al city job,” he ad­ded.

Gault be­lieves that Good­win got caught in a “flashover” when the heat in­side a smoke-filled room be­comes so in­tense that float­ing gases and the air it­self ig­nite spon­tan­eously. In fact, Good­win and oth­er fire­fight­ers had prob­ably gone to the roof to pre­vent such an oc­cur­rence and stop the flames from spread­ing. Typ­ic­ally, fire­fight­ers will break win­dows and carve oth­er open­ings to vent the burn­ing build­ing.

“[They] were try­ing to get the gases out of the build­ing, the smoke and the gases. That’s what happened here,” Gault said. “The lad­der trucks, their job is to res­cue and get the smoke out.”

The uni­on — Loc­al 22 of the In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire Fight­ers — paid trib­ute to Good­win, along with Neary and Sweeney, in a wreath-lay­ing ce­re­mony on Tues­day at City Hall. Pub­lic view­ings for Good­win are sched­uled for 5 p.m. to­night and 9 a.m. Thursday at John F. Givn­ish Fu­ner­al Home, 10975 Academy Road. A Life Cel­eb­ra­tion Ser­vice will be­gin at noon Thursday at St. Mi­chael’s Luther­an Church, 2139 E. Cum­ber­land St., in Kens­ing­ton with in­ter­ment to fol­low at Hill­side Cemetery in Roslyn.

Good­win grew up on Cum­ber­land Street and joined the Boy Scout troop at St. Mi­chael’s. He gradu­ated from Mast­baum Tech and served in the U.S. Navy be­fore re­turn­ing home and en­ter­ing the Fire Academy. He re­mained act­ive at St. Mi­chael’s des­pite mov­ing to the Far North­east and was pres­id­ent of the church coun­cil.

Life mainly con­sisted of work and fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to those who knew him well.

“My fath­er would take over­time whenev­er he could. He would help out any­body he could. It didn’t mat­ter who you were, he would run in­to that build­ing and pull you out,” Mike Good­win Jr. said.

The fire de­part­ment’s of­fi­cial spokes­man, Ex­ec­ut­ive Chief Richard Dav­is­on, said that Good­win’s ded­ic­a­tion was well-known.

“I knew about the lead­er­ship that he brought to the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment,” Dav­is­on said. “He was a good man and was re­spec­ted by many.”

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, City Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke and Gov. Tom Corbett all paid sim­il­ar trib­utes to Good­win. Nut­ter ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff, as did Corbett for all state flags.

Mike Good­win Jr. said he will miss the un­waver­ing sup­port his dad gave to him. He will also miss ana­lyz­ing the daily sports page with his dad, hear­ing his old Navy stor­ies and feel­ing the warmth of his hugs.

“I’ll miss wak­ing up in the morn­ing and know­ing he’s go­ing to be there; giv­ing him a hug, put­ting my head in his chest and feel­ing that mous­tache up here,” Mike Jr. said, mo­tion­ing to his fore­head.

“He was the cap­tain of our house. He was our an­chor and now we lost our an­chor. … But we’re go­ing to keep on keep­ing on. That’s what he would’ve wanted us to do, to keep on go­ing.” •• 

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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