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Thousands to honor fallen firefighter

FDNY Lt. Rich Nappi, seen in a photo

FDNY Lt. Rich Nappi, seen in a photo from August 2010. Nappi died while fighting a fire in Bushwick. (April 16, 2012) Credit: Lloyd Mitchell

Thousands of firefighters from the city and beyond are expected on Long Island Thursday through the weekend for the wake and funeral of FDNY Lt. Richard Nappi, who collapsed and died after battling a three-alarm blaze in a Brooklyn warehouse.

FDNY officials said the wake for Nappi, 47, will take place Thursday and Friday at Maloney's Funeral Home at 132 Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma. A funeral Mass will take place Saturday, 10:30 a.m., at The Church of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 800 Portion Road, Lake Ronkonkoma. Times for the wake are both days from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Nappi was registered as an organ donor and the family was abiding by his wishes, officials said.

A spokesman for the FDNY said at about 6,000 firefighters from around the country, the city and Long Island are expected. It was the first FDNY line-of-duty death since 2009.

Nappi complained of dizziness and being overheated after leading a team of firefighters with a hose line into a burning building at 930 Flushing Ave. He was rushed to Woodhull Hospital but died from what city officials said was an apparent heart attack.

Medical experts are awaiting results of tissue and toxicology tests to determine the exact cause of death. The FDNY requires firefighters to have a physical once a year. Nappi passed his last physical in September 2011, officials said.

Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, said the cause of death was listed as "pending." Borakove said toxicology tests would determine if carbon monoxide was present in Nappi's body. Tissue samples were taken to see if any medical conditions such as a heart problem played a role, she added.

At Engine Co. 237 in Brooklyn , Nappi's unit, his colleagues hung purple and black bunting and held a silent formation for their fallen member.

"We will get through the next couple of days as a unit, a family," Capt. James Hurley told reporters.

At Nappi's home in Farmingville, which he shared with his wife, Mary Anne, and the couple's two children, Catherine, 12, and Nicholas, 11, a steady stream of visitors arrived at the white colonial-style house. One woman brought a large gift basket with a green bow; another carried a pizza box. Later in the afternoon, a man carried on a hanger a dark uniform with an FDNY patch on the sleeve.

Marie Merkle, a neighbor, said Nappi, who was a volunteer at the Farmingville Fire Department, was a "good, caring man." Merkle recalled that when an elderly neighborhood woman had breathing problems after a hospital stay, Nappi came to help her.

"He flew over there and he took care of her until the ambulance came," said Merkle, 70. "He was very caring. He took care of us -- the senior citizens on the block. He was just a good, caring man."

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