FDNY Firefighter Killed Battling Blaze Laid to Rest

Mourners began flooding the hamlet of Lake Ronkonkoma on early Saturday for the funeral of FDNY Lt. Richard Nappi, who died Monday while fighting a blaze at a commercial building in Brooklyn.

The Mass for the Farmingville resident is being offered at the Church of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Portion Road. Parts of Ronkonkoma Avenue and Portion Road have been closed to traffic until 2 p.m.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in attendance.

The 47-year-old Nappi, who led Engine Co. 237 into the fire at a warehouse, collapsed from exhaustion and heat and was rushed to the Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, where medics were unable to save him.

A 17-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, Nappi was working in a firehouse in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 and rushed to the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks.

"By all accounts, this was a man who was dedicated to his job, his community and his family," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone who was outside the church this morning. "He was a hero in every way you define a hero.

Before joining the FDNY, he had been a state parole officer and a case worker for the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. He graduated in 1986 from Iona College in New Rochelle. He was also a 22-year volunteer with the Farmingville Fire Department.

As firefighters began to line up along Portion Road in front of the church, small groups of locals began congregating on the sidewalk.

Parishioner Joe Scarglato, 79, said he didn't know Nappi but wanted to pay his respects. Holding a green lawn chair, he and some friends gathered just across from the line of mourners waiting to get inside.

"I'm civil service too so I really respect what these guys do," said the retired NYC highway department worker.

Suzanne Hughes, 39, lives nearby and read about Nappi. She said she'd never been to a funeral for a firefighter before. "This is amazing," she said as she looked around her at the growing line of firefighters. "But they deserve it. They put their lives on the line."

In recent days, a steady stream of mourners had visited a Lake Ronkonkoma funeral home for a series of viewings and a wake.

Nappi is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and their children, Catherine, 12, and Nicholas, 11.

Copyright 2012 - Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service