NBC New York
Thousands gathered Saturday to say goodbye to a veteran New York City firefighter who died in the line of duty. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.
A New York City fire lieutenant who died fighting a blaze was remembered Saturday at his funeral as a big, playful man who lived for his wife and two children and saw his service with the Fire Department as far more than a vocation.
Lt. Richard Nappi collapsed Monday as his engine company attacked a hot, smoky fire at a Brooklyn warehouse. Authorities think he suffered heat exhaustion and a heart attack.
Around 400 mourners filled a church in Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island to memorialize the fallen 47-year-old.
Delivering the eulogy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg compared Nappi to the bulldog mascot at his Brooklyn firehouse, saying they both had "a stocky, powerful build, a playful, outgoing personality, and a tough, bulldog determination."
"He never lost his taste for firehouse pranks," Bloomberg said. But on the job, he added, "he was also all-business." Nappi began his career as an 18-year-old volunteer in the Smithtown Fire Department, and in recent years served as an instructor at Suffolk County's fire academy.
Hundreds of firefighters lined up, shoulder-to-shoulder, outside the Church of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and stood at attention as Nappi's casket was carried into the chapel. It was draped with a Fire Department flag.
There were more mourners than could fit inside the church.
"He was so good to my kids, his kids, his wife. My heart just aches for her," said Joan McGeever, one of Nappi's neighbors in Farmingdale. "He was too young. But if there was any way to go, it would be in the line of duty. He gave his life for the Fire Department — lived and breathed it."
A scholarship fund has been set up for Nappi's two children at the request of Engine 237. Donations may be made to:
Lieutenant Richard A. Nappi Children's Education Fund
9 Metrotech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
All donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of all donations will go the fund, FDNY press officials said.
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