04/18/2012 05:16 pm ET

Lt. Richard Nappi, 9/11 Hero, Dies After Brooklyn Warehouse Fire (How You Can Help)

New York City is mourning the loss of a 9/11 hero, but keeping his legacy alive through a memorial fund for his surviving children.

Lt. Richard Nappi, 47, went into cardiac arrest and later died while battling a three-alarm fire in a Brooklyn warehouse on Monday, The New York Times reports. He was the first FDNY fatality since 2009.

His mourning colleagues hung black and purple bunting at Bushwick's Engine 237 for a hero who, on 9/11, raced down to the World Trade Center on his day off.

“He just did everything for the firefighters, for his family,” Lt. Tom Minelli told the New York Daily News. “He was just a firefighter’s firefighter. He loved being in the firehouse. He loved being a firefighter. He loved protecting the city.”

The 17-year FDNY veteran leaves behind his wife, Mary Ann and two young children. The FDNY Foundation has established a scholarship fund for his kids, the news outlet reports.

Even before September 11, friends say that Nappi was an exceptional firefighter. He was honored for pulling his colleagues out of harm's way while battling wildfires on eastern Long Island in 1995, according to The New York Times and a state firefighter at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. told the news outlet how Nappi would get home from his job in Manhattan, quickly eat and race to his evening training sessions.

“He helped save and rebuild our city in ways that all New Yorkers -- in fact, people all over the world -– understand,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference on Monday, according to . “Outside his family, his life's work was keeping New Yorkers safe from fires. And by any measure, he succeeded magnificently.”

If you would like to help support Lt. Richard Nappi’s children, send a check to:

FDNY Foundation
Lieutenant Richard A. Nappi Children's Education Fund
9 Metrotech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201