We're back (sorta)! I hope everyone is doing well! It definitely has been a while since we posted any content. You can blame that on the lack of time on my end lol! Anyway, we have the privilege of having Anthony Vessella Jr. on the blog today! Some of you may recall his YouTube channel from way back when! He is currently a member of Studington Fire & Rescue as the captain of Station 1.
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog Anthony! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
AV: I started building in 2009 or 2010, but I wasn’t aware of the LFC online until about 2012 when I began my YouTube channel, which was westbrickwichfire. I always had an interest in fire apparatus and I thought it would be cool to create my own department. I originally started with Matchbox trucks, but found that Legos could work just as well, and the color possibilities were practically endless. Legos gave me the most freedom to customize each rig and re-create real-life ones and modify them as I saw fit.
LFC Blog: That's awesome! I remember watching some of your YouTube vids back in the day. That's pretty much why I switched from Matchbox cars to Legos! The variety available to builders is basically what attracted me to LEGO in the first place. Who/what inspires you to build?
AV: I would say that my biggest form of inspiration came from Zak O. When I first started to look into custom-built fire trucks online, his seemed to be the only ones around using the fender flare pieces, which I really liked. I also really liked his trucks, the first of which was a 1990s E-One Hurricane pumper for West Brickmont. I was also drawn to his rigs because I had never seen black-over-yellow trucks before, which I thought was unique.
LFC Blog: Zak definitely had an impact on most, if not all of us, in some fashion. Not only did his rigs have unique color schemes, but he also used quite a bit of novel techniques that a lot of us would utilize nowadays. What's in the name West Brickwich and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
AV: Although it has been defunct for years now, the name “West Brickwich” originated from West Greenwich, Rhode Island, where I live. Since then, I’ve shifted names over to “Big River Fire Protection District”, “Twin Brook Fire Department”, and “Fish Hill Fire Company”. All of the above listed departments have local origins. Big River is actually Big River Watershed, a section of conserved land local to me, and Twin Brook and Fish Hill are both based off of local street names.
The original yellow and white color scheme of West Brickwich (circa 2009-2010, prior to publishing online) was inspired by a local department, Hianloland Fire Company, which are the only yellow rigs in real life I had seen in-person at the time. The scheme then shifted to black-over-red with a black stripe, which was inspired by Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, a vacation spot that I would often visit. The schemes are currently up in the air for my planned departments, but I’d like to resurrect the two mentioned above.
LFC Blog: It's really cool to see how many people base their city names based on their local cities/departments. I, for one, can't wait to see you resurrect your old departments! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
AV: The most challenging rig I’ve ever built is an E-One 100’ rear-mount tower, which I have planned for Studington. It is currently not built in bricks. The most challenging rig I have built would be Studington Squad 1, which is a 2020 E-One Cyclone II rescue-style pumper, which utilized a decent amount of SNOT techniques on the body in order to assure that there were no gaps and all bricks were flush with one another.
LFC Blog: The render for SFR Tower 1 looks awesome! The community definitely needs more E-ONES haha! Personally, I think it pairs well with SFR Squad 1 :) What is your most favorite rig and why?
AV: My favorite rig built to-date would have to be my crew cab Kenworth/Pierce pumper-tanker. The brilliant cab is inspired by Zak O.
LFC Blog: I feel there is a resurgence of commercial pumper/tankers. I blame Jessie W for that haha! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
AV: I wouldn’t say that there is a particular Lego piece that I wish was manufactured, but I do wish that more pieces were available in the lime color, as I’ve always wanted to make a lime-colored department.
LFC Blog: Amen! Lime is a fantastic color to use! I do wish lime window frames were available too! What are your future plans for your department?
AV: The future plans would be to actually build in real bricks, or at least get rigs constructed in Stud.io to be ordered. It has been tough to find time to build with college and work. I have a few rigs built in real bricks, and I’d like to stripe and decal them before being published.
LFC Blog: Time does seem to be our greatest enemy! If only we had a time machine.... But yea, focus first on college and work before hobbies! After all, without the first two, there is no way to fund our favorite (or second-favorite) activity haha! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
AV: The best part of the LFC is without a doubt the people that you meet. People from all over interact with one another and bounce ideas off of each other, and it’s great to see the wide variety of talent and growth of each builder. It is also cool to see who is local to you, with the possibility to plan meet-ups. I’ve met up with Paulo R. and I plan to meet up with James K. or Tim, as they are located in the New England area.
LFC Blog: For sure! It would be cool to do some sort of meet up in the future, but I think it's best to do this after the pandemic is over. How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
AV: I would like to see more young talent coming through.
LFC Blog: That's for sure! There are quite a bit of young up-and-comers, and I would love to see them develop their own identity and not have rigs that look the same as other builders. Any tips or advice for new builders?
AV: My biggest tip would be to remember this: quality over quantity. Another piece of advice that I can give is to reach out to the veteran builders, and ask for help. Talking to and learning from someone who inspires you can really boost your confidence and aid in the development of your building skills.
LFC Blog: Quality over quantity is indeed one of the most important concepts people should focus on! Instead of literally having 100 rigs with a cookie cutter setup, it would be better to make one rig packed with many details! From adding details like grab bars, valves and controls on the pump panel, compartment frames, to even applying decals, your attention to detail will certainly not be missed! And yes, asking for help is a great way to learn! Just don't ask "hey, give me instructions for your rigs." It would be much better to ask like this, "I've been trying to build with this technique lately. Can you give me suggestions on how to improve?" The reason why I say this is that at least for most of us who have been around for a while, we discovered a lot of techniques via reverse engineering. And even the that process can take time, so for people to ask how to utilize a technique without showing any initiative on their part makes it less likely to receive quality help. Sure, we may point you in the right direction, but like we mentioned earlier, time to build is limited especially for some of us who are working, or are in school, or have family, or all of the above. That is not to say that we don't help. On the contrary, many of us toss ideas back and forth. Some projects even last more than a year before being completed! In any case, don't be afraid to ask us for help!
Well, thank you Anthony for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us! We wish you well in your future endeavors! For those reading this blog, thanks for your continued support! I will try my best to continue posting here on a somewhat regular basis lol! Also, for those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for more content!
~Committed to presenting outstanding LEGO firefighting MOCs from around the world!~
Blog Updated: 01/28/21
Welcome to the Lego Fire Community Blog! Presented here are outstanding builders who captivate their audience with their MOCs (My Own Creation). The purpose of this blog is to educate others of exemplary builders both past and present.
This blog is dedicated to Eric S. McDonald, the Fire Chief of the original Lego City Fire Department who died unexpectedly on Aug. 21, 2002. His vision is what started the whole LFC, and for that we are eternally grateful.
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Chief editor - Michael P. - Founder of Castle Beach Fire Department and Los Angelego County Fire Department
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