IT WASN'T long ago that Philadelphia fire Capt. Michael Goodwin - a popular veteran with nearly three decades in the department - took the test for a promotion to battalion chief.
Now, Goodwin will receive his promotion posthumously - after he died Saturday evening fighting a three-alarm blaze in Queen Village - the third firefighter killed in the line of duty in the past 12 months.
Goodwin, 53, a 29-year veteran described by neighbors as a dedicated family man, was killed after a third-floor roof collapsed beneath him as he battled a fire in a fabric store at the corner of 4th and Fitzwater streets Saturday.
"I was hoping that he would make chief," Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, speaking about the posthumous promotion. "He was a good leader."
Goodwin was declared dead at the scene. In a poignant display, firefighters saluted as his body was carried out on a stretcher and taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The tragedy occurred a particularly diffcult time. It happened as firefighters were preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of the April 9, 2012, deaths of Capt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney. Those two were killed during a warehouse blaze in Kensington when the wall of an adjoining building collapsed.
Ayers visited Goodwin's station, Ladder 27 in South Philadelphia, on Sunday to talk with grieving firefighters. Bouquets of flowers lined a bench outside the station as residents and firefighters from other stations streamed in to offer their condolences.
Ayers said he met Goodwin several years ago, when Goodwin was a lieutenant. The last time he saw him was at the Hero Thrill Show, as Goodwin's company operated a ladder for the children.
"He [took] care of his folks," Ayers said of Goodwin. "He's come up through the Fire Department - lieutenant, captain - around the city. He's fought fires in some of the busiest places, like many of our leaders. We're proud of him."
Goodwin's family is no stranger to public service. One of his brothers, James, is a Philadelphia police officer in the Narcotics Unit, according to Ayers.
The commissioner said the department had been in touch with Goodwin's wife and two adult children, Michael Jr. and Dorothy, as well as his mother, Elizabeth, and two other siblings, Robbie and Debbie.
"His family is being supported by our members, his family is also being supported by the community. They're a strong, tight-knit family, so they're going to support each other," Ayers said.
The commissioner once again asked for the community's prayers as the department tries to heal.
"You can look and you see tons of folks around just hugging on everybody, taking care of them [because] that's what we need right now. We need some love, some hugs, some understanding and we'll get through," he said.
Mayor Nutter ordered flags flown at half-staff on all city buildings for the next 30 days in honor of Goodwin. Philadelphia firefighters will also don a black stripe on their badges, and all city fire stations will display black bunting for the next 30 days.
"We must never forget the grave risks that these heroic public servants take every day at a moment's notice on behalf of us all," Nutter said in a statement Sunday.
Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the International Association of Firefighters, said Goodwin's death hit firefighters hard.
"The month of April has been especially cruel to us. Tuesday marks one year since the tragic deaths of Lt. Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney and now, nearly a year to the day, we've lost Mike," Gault said in a statement.
The union will honor Goodwin during the ceremony scheduled for Neary and Sweeney at City Hall on Tuesday.
Goodwin lived in Northeast Philadelphia. His next-door neighbor Judy Brennan said he loved spending time with his family.
"He was a really good man, a family man. He loved his grandchildren, loved his children, adored his wife," Brennan said.
Firefighter Andrew Godlinski was injured in Saturday's blaze trying to rescue Goodwin. He was treated at Jefferson for burns to his hands and released Sunday afternoon.
Ayers said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Bruce Blumenthal, owner of Jack B. Fabrics, told reporters at the scene the blaze appeared to start in the wall and may have been electrical.
In addition to the fabric store, a boutique next door and apartments above also suffered severe damage.