The Wall Street Journal - April 18, 2012by PERVAIZ SHALLWANI
One day after Lt. Richard Nappi's death from an apparent heart attack, firefighers gathered Tuesday with the stunned members of Engine Company 237 to mourn a fallen comrade.
The cause of the fatal three-alarm fire near Lt. Nappi's firehouse in Brooklyn's Bushwick section remained under investigation Tuesday, and the city medical examiner hadn't yet determined what exactly killed the veteran firefighter.
Lt. Nappi, a 47-year-old father of two from Farmingville, N.Y., was supervising a crew outside the burning two-story warehouse when he called for help. He suffered what New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano described as a "cardiac event" while in an ambulance.
Firefighter Ed Hiler, who was on the scene with Lt. Nappi, described an environment that was hot and filled with smoke. "It was extreme heat, a lot of smoke," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see what happened."
Street corners on either side of the firehouse were closed Tuesday morning while a ladder truck from a nearby company was used to raise ceremonial black and purple bunting, a symbol of mourning, over the entrance. Members of the station wore dress uniforms and watched as two firefighters and a lieutenant who worked closest with Lt. Nappi carried out the sad task from the truck's bucket.
When the ceremony was over, the group held a moment of silence.
Capt. James Hurley struggled to hold back tears as a he remembered a "tremendous family man" who was "very involved with his kids."
"They had just gone to the home opener of the Mets at Citi Field," Capt. Hurley said, choking up.
"We're still in shock. We are still trying to siphon it through, decipher it all. It's not setting in yet," he added. "So we are going to do what we have always done in the past, we are going to go through the next couple of days as a unit, as a family."
Lt. Nappi, who had been with the FDNY since 1994, was the city's first firefighter fatality at an active scene since 2009. Eight other firefighters were treated for injuries on Monday.
Lt. Thomas Minelli, who worked closest with Lt. Nappi, recalled "a real team player, a real leader. He led by example. He was just a firefighter's firefighter."
Asked to share some of Lt. Nappi's finest moments, Lt. Minelli was overcome with emotion. "It's not just one," he said. "It's just so many. Rich always had a smile. He loved being in the firehouse. He loved being a firefighter. He loved protecting the city of New York."