Two-year-old Richie Spicknall used to come to the Orchard Beach Volunteer Fire Station in Pasadena to visit his grandfather, Anne Arundel County firefighter Paul Fields. He would climb all over the shiny red fire engines and ring the fire bells, bringing smiles to the faces of the firefighters.

At Richie's funeral yesterday, firefighters returned the tribute. Two Orchard Beach volunteer firefighters--one his 21-year-old uncle, Chad Fields--placed their station's helmet insignia and an official patch in his tiny white coffin and pronounced him an honorary member of their fire department.

Richie's flower-bedecked coffin stood beside a nearly identical one that held the body of his sister, Destiny Array Spicknall, 3. Both coffins were surrounded by white teddy bears and more flowers.

The children were fatally shot last week as they sat strapped in their safety seats in the back seat of the Jeep their father was using to drive them to a beach vacation. Their father, Richard Wayne Spicknall II, 27, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond, on a suicide watch, in the Talbot County Detention Center.

But there was no mention of him, or of his alleged role in the children's violent deaths, as more than 200 mourners gathered in a funeral home in Pasadena to pay their last respects.

Relatives from both sides of the children's family sat side by side--some embraced--as the Rev. Rick Andrews, of Brooklyn United Methodist Church, assured mourners that the children who were so close in life were already together in Heaven.

Andrews had been with relatives at Destiny's bedside Friday when she died, a day after she and Richie--Richard Wayne Spicknall III--were found in the Jeep behind a house under construction near the Malkus Bridge over the Choptank River. Richie was pronounced dead a short time after the children were found.

"Jesus loves the little children of the world," Andrews repeatedly told the mourners.

The children's mother, Lisa Marie Spicknall, 24, sat in the front row; at times her sobs filled the chapel. As she rose to embrace the firefighters who had honored her son, dozens of other mourners were crying, too.

Then mourners filed by the twin coffins for more than an hour.

Afterward a long procession of cars, led by an Orchard Beach fire truck adorned with black sashes, escorted the bodies to a nearby Pasadena cemetery.

At a brief news conference at the community fire station after the children were buried, Lisa Spicknall spoke briefly, expressing her "heartfelt thanks to all those who've helped me through this most difficult time."

Even as the children were being laid to rest, Maryland State Police divers continued to search the Choptank River for the 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun that Richard Wayne Spicknall allegedly used to shoot the children. A spokesman said that the search yesterday was unsuccessful, but will resume at 9 a.m. today.

On Monday, the Howard County sheriff's office disclosed that a clerical error allowed Spicknall to buy the gun, which he should have been prohibited from purchasing because of a court protective order against him handed down in December 1998.

An internal investigation found that a similar error was made in the cases of three other people. Howard County Sheriff Charles Cave said yesterday that none of the three bought a gun during the period they were mistakenly removed from the county gun ban list. All the mistakes have been corrected, he said.

CAPTION: Lisa Marie Spicknall is escorted by her mother, Peggy Fields, and a family friend, Wayne DeGrange, after a news conference and the burial of her children.