FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FIRE COMMISSIONER CASSANO ANNOUNCE DEATH OF FDNY LIEUTENANT RICHARD NAPPI
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn today:
"We are here at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center with Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, Chief of the Department Ed Kilduff, Chief of Operations Robert Sweeney, Brooklyn Borough Commander James Leonard, Kerry Kelly, the doctor who is the Fire Department's Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Viola Ortiz, who is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Steve Cassidy from the UFA and Lieutenant Ed Bowles from the UFOA.
"Commissioner Cassano will walk you through details in a minute, but around 1:00 pm today units responding to a fire at a commercial building on Flushing Avenue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Multiple units responded to the scene and the fire was brought under control shortly before 4:00 pm. One of the responding units was Engine Company 237, which was led by Lieutenant Richard Nappi.
"While battling the blaze, Lieutenant Nappi overheated, suffered exhaustion and collapsed. He was rushed here to Woodhull, but despite the best efforts of medical personnel, he tragically died.
"47-year-old Lieutenant Richard Nappi was a 17-year veteran of the FDNY, a Bronx native who lived in Suffolk County. He has a wife Mary Anne, and a 12-year-old daughter and an11-year-old son. I just spent some time with Mary Anne who is here to express the condolences of all the people of New York and thanked them for the ultimate sacrifice that their family made to keep New Yorkers safe.
"Before joining the FDNY, Lieutenant Nappi was a State Parole Officer and a case worker for the Suffolk County Department of Social Services.
"On the morning of September 11th, '01, the FDNY's - and New York City's - most tragic day, Lieutenant Nappi was assigned to Engine 7 on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan, where he responded with valor to the World Trade Center attacks. In the days that followed, he helped save and rebuild our city in ways that all New Yorkers - in fact, people all over the world - understand.
"But his role in saving and rebuilding New York City every day over his entire 17-year career at the FDNY is far less understood, and that's what I wanted to honor for a few minutes here today.
"Thankfully, these moments when we gather in one of our city's hospitals to announce the death of one of New York's Bravest have become very rare events. Firefighter Paul Warhola was the last member of the FDNY who lost his life keeping us all safe. He passed away in the summer of 2009 after responding to a fire in Williamsburg, not far from today's fire.
"When it comes to fire deaths for all New Yorkers, the past ten years has been the safest decade since accurate fire record-keeping began in 1916. Back then, the city experienced 141 deaths. And in the decade ending in 2002, New York City averaged 140 deaths per year. But in the last two years - the safest ever - we have seen an average of only about 65 deaths. And we've seen commensurate decreases in deaths of firefighting personnel.
"I say this not to minimize the tragic death of Lieutenant Nappi, but to elevate it. Outside his family, his life's work was keeping New Yorkers safe from fires. And by any measure, he succeeded magnificently.
"He joined the Fire Department back in October of 1994. His first full year on the job, 1995, was the year New York saw 173 fire deaths. But as I just said, for the last two years we've averaged about 65. A lot less than half. That's 108 New Yorkers a year alive and well thanks to men and women like Lieutenant Richard Nappi - 108.
"When you think of their families, that means hundreds of children who would never have known their parents, or even been born. Thousands of little league games and First Communions that would have been missed. Millions of life's most memorable moments that would have been snuffed out, if not for people like Lieutenant Nappi
"When most New Yorkers think of the gains our City has made in fighting and preventing fires, crimes and other causes of death, they tend for good reason to think back to years like 1970 when there were 310 fire deaths in the five boroughs.
"But we forget the gains that the men and women currently in uniform have achieved over the years really are spectacular. You and I are alive today because of the work of Lieutenant 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. So if you pass a member of the FDNY today or tomorrow, do what I always try to do - thank them for keeping us safe. The life that they may have saved could have been yours.
"Commissioner Cassano will fill you in on more of the details about Lieutenant Nappi's career, but let me just say once again this is a very tragic day for New York City - somebody who devoted his life to keeping us safe is no longer with us. Commissioner?"
Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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