Revered Lieutenant Leaves Behind A Wife And 2 Children, Ages 12 and 11

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A firefighter gave the ultimate sacrifice Monday while battling a warehouse blaze in Brooklyn.

FDNY Lt. Rich Nappi of Farmingdale, Long Island died after suffering an apparent heart attack. The 47-year-old was with Engine 237, which was responding to a fire in a two-story commercial building at 930 Flushing Ave. The fire broke out around 1 p.m. and was brought under control just before 4 p.m.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at a news conference from Woodhull Hospital, said that Nappi overheated, suffered exhaustion and collapsed.  Firefighters from Ladder Company 112 removed Nappi on a stretcher to the street, where he initially was conscious and alert, officials said.

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EMS personnel began to treat Nappi in an ambulance when he suddenly became unconscious and suffered cardiac arrest, Bloomberg said. EMTs and paramedics continued to work on him and he was rushed to Woodhull Hospital where he later died, officials said.

“You and I are alive today because of the work of Lt. Richard Nappi. Hundreds of New Yorkers are and since none of them or us know what horrible fate didn’t befall us, none of us think to thank them,” Bloomberg said while encouraging people to show a greater appreciation for firefighters.

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Lt. Richard Nappi (credit: FDNY)

“He was dedicated. He was brave. He was committed to the fire service.  He will be sorely missed by all of us that knew him,” FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said.

Neighbors who knew Nappi said they could only think of his family. The lieutenant is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and their children Catherine, 12, and Nicholas, 11.

“It’s very sad when you see the two kids grow up without a dad. It’s terrible,” said neighbor Jaques Plaisin.

“He was just a guy that always helped everybody. He was just so nice. He was a really nice guy,” Patricia Barberis added.

One firefighter remained in critical condition and four others were listed in serious condition Monday night.  A total of eight firefighters were hurt battling the fire, officials said. Among the injured was FDNY Chief Medical Officer Kerry Kelly, who was taken to Kings County Hospital due to smoke inhalation.

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Nappi was appointed to the FDNY in 1994 and worked in Engine Company 7 on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan.  Even though he was off duty on Sept. 11, 2001, Nappi responded to the World Trade Center.  He was later promoted to lieutenant in 2007 and assigned to Engine 237.