He was a hard-driving class clown at his Brooklyn firehouse, first to the rig when the alarm sounded and partial to odd jobs that called for a welding torch.

But when he got home, Rescue Co. 2 firefighter Lincoln Quappe of Sayville loved nothing better than to squeeze into a little chair at his daughter's kindergarten and help paint a picture or fashion a bird's nest from wisps of straw.

World Trade Center recovery workers last weekend identified the remains of the decorated 16-year veteran, who was also well-known in his home community as a Cub Scout leader, baseball coach and Sayville fire lieutenant who had provided gentle guidance to many a young volunteer.

"I don't think he realized just how many lives he touched," Jane Quappe said Monday, as she prepared for days of mourning after the long recovery vigil. "People are coming out of the woodwork."

Raised in Brookhaven, Quappe attended Bellport High School and Suffolk County Community College, and was a longtime member of the Brookhaven Fire Department, before becoming a city firefighter. He served on Ladder Co. 123 and Engine Co. 234 in Crown Heights, but saving lives with Rescue Co. 2, in the same area, was a higher ambition for Quappe than rising in the department brass, said fellow firefighter Mark Gregory.

He was known as an aggressive rescue team member, relentless in his drive to improve his skills. He filled spare hours welding additions to the firehouse training tower to help practice specialized rescue techniques. He created less practical gizmos as well.

"We had needed a broom, so he took a 30-pound piece of pipe and welded it into a broomstick," Gregory said. Quappe's 30-pound broom is still in use today - by whichever firefighter is slowest to the broom closet at cleanup time, Gregory said.

Jane Quappe generally knew her husband was working when the TV news flashed images of fires and other catastrophes in Brooklyn, but she can't supply many details of what he did there. When Lincoln Quappe came home, he was more interested in son Clint, 8, and daughter Natalie, 5.

"He felt they didn't deserve to hear the stories; he pretty much wanted to protect me from hearing the bad," she said. "But face it: When you marry a firefighter, you realize he could go to work and not come home.

"Firefighting was in his blood. It defined him. As sad as it is at 38 years old for him to lose his life, if he had it to do all over again, I think he would have done it exactly the way he did."