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Lost firefighter mourned in NYC, Long Island

FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. — Black and purple bunting adorned two firehouses on Tuesday, one in New York City and a second on eastern Long Island, both paying tribute to the same man: A veteran New York City firefighter and longtime volunteer who collapsed and died battling a warehouse fire in Brooklyn.

Lt. Richard Nappi, a 17-year veteran of the FDNY, overheated and suffered exhaustion before he collapsed trying to put out the fire at a warehouse building in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday night.

The mayor noted that Nappi, 47, was among the hundreds of firefighters who responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and worked for more than a decade to help recover from the tragedy.

"Outside his family, his life's work was keeping New Yorkers safe from fires," Bloomberg said. "And by any measure, he succeeded magnificently."

Friends and family gathered outside Nappi's home in Farmingville, on eastern Long Island. When he wasn't fighting fires in New York City, Nappi was a volunteer in his town's volunteer department.

An electronic sign outside the Farmingville Fire Department headquarters said: "We are mourning the line-of-duty passing of FFD Member and FDNY Lt. Richard Nappi." Several firefighters gathered inside a garage at headquarters, declined to comment, citing a family request not to speak with reporters.

Nappi also was a part-time instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy in Yaphank.

Philip Caron, 71, who knew Nappi for many years, told Newsday he was shocked and saddened by his friend's death.

"He was a guy that would give you the shirt off his back," Caron said. "He was a fireman all the way. ...He ate, slept and drank fire department."

A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner said an autopsy would be performed.

Nappi is the first FDNY member to die on duty since a firefighter suffered a stroke in August 2009.

There was no immediate information available on funeral arrangements.

Nappi is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and a 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York City contributed to this report.