LFC Blog: Welcome to the latest edition of the LFC Blog! Today, we have the distinct honor of presenting Matt J, who is the owner of Jakeland Fire Department, Rochelle Heights Fire Department, and Liberty County Fire Department. Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog Matt! First off, I would like to thank you for inspiring me to build! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
MJ: Well first off my name is Matt and I am currently a volunteer firefighter and a police officer in New Jersey. I have been a volunteer FF since 1999 and a police officer since 2009.
I started building Lego fire trucks when I was probably 8 or 9. I built only 4-wide firetrucks until 2007. That was when I finally made the switch to 6 wide. The reason I got into building Lego fire apparatus is because of my dad. My dad would sit at the dining room table filled with bowls of different Lego bricks and pieces. This was way back in the early 90’s so we didn’t have the internet or even a computer in the house. So he would look at fire apparatus in books and get inspired to build a fire truck similar to it. I eventually learned how to build them on my own and have been doing it ever since.
LFC Blog: Awesome to hear about how you got started building! I remember seeing your 4-wide builds on Brickshelf a long time ago! Who/what inspires you to build?
MJ: In the beginning it was my father since he showed me the ropes. Then as I got older, I didn’t build with Lego much. At 18 I joined the U.S. Navy and didn’t touch a Lego brick for years. When I got out of the military, I discovered the LMFD. So I would say all the members of the LMFD, especially Bob K, Paul B, Anthony S, Mike L and of course Tom D inspired me to get back into Lego. Steve Asbury inspired me to make the switch from 4 wide to 6 wide and to use the bigger style wheels.
LFC Blog: Wow! Those are great people to get inspiration from! What's in the name Jakeland and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
MJ: For Jakeland, my nickname in the Navy was Jake which is short for Jacobsen. Also Jake is a nickname for a firefighter in New England so I thought it fit. The color scheme for Jakeland originally was inspired by F.D.N.Y. but then I wanted Jakeland to have it’s own identity. Black and red has always been my favorite scheme on a fire truck, but a lot of guys at the time had black over red. So I decided to make my own unique scheme. I then tweaked it a bit to again stand out from the crowd.
For Rochelle Heights, the name is from the original name of my volunteer fire department. The color scheme, black and orange, was inspired by Hasbrouck Heights, NJ whos colors are black and orange.
And for Liberty County, that was of course inspired by the statue of liberty which is 10 minutes away from my house. I wanted the color scheme to be simple since it is planned to be a good size department with a lot of engines and ladders. So a simple white over red scheme was picked for simplicity and availability of parts.
LFC Blog: I especially love Jakeland's red over black color scheme! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
MJ: I would have to say my aerialscope probably. I put some new features into it that I hadn’t done before and I think made it more realistic. Especially since it can go below grade for the “store front” attack.
LFC Blog: Indeed, Aerialscopes are among the most difficult rigs to replicate! What is your most favorite rig and why?
MJ: I would say FDLC’s Engine 59, the Pierce Enforcer. Bob K actually helped me get the pitch of the roof perfect to give it the Enforcer look!
LFC Blog: That is a really cool build! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
MJ: This is a tough one, there are a lot of pieces that would make it easier or make a truck more realistic. But if I had to choose just one, it would be a flat windshield the same size as the regular windshield. Then Seagraves, Macks, etc would look much better!
LFC Blog: I agree! I think that a diversity of windshields would help out so much! What are your future plans for your department?
MJ: For Jakeland I am planning on building 1 or 2 new engines. At least 1. For Rochelle Heights I want to build a new ladder and possibly bring back the rescue. And for the FDLC, just keep building new trucks to grow the department. And for all 3 departments, I plan on new incidents. I would like to get back on pace of 1 incident per month, but time isn’t a luxury like it used to be.
LFC Blog: I always enjoy seeing your incidents! The details such as the ground ladder placement, the "snow," the trees, and of course the minifigs make it look like a real incident! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
MJ: The social media groups and sites. You can literally go on Facebook and see so many Lego trucks and get inspired to build something.
LFC Blog: Indeed! We are blessed to live in such an age! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
MJ: I personally would like to see more trucks with actual operating compartments that can be used for storage. I am not a fan of the brick built compartments with just a round plate to act as a handle or just grill bricks used as roll up doors. All my trucks have at least 1 compartment that can be used to store tools and actually has tools inside. But I build my trucks to be used at an incident, not sit on a shelf.
LFC Blog: Functionality while maintaining the structural integrity is a challenge, especially when using unconventional doors. Well, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to have this interview, Matt! I personally can't wait to see what the future holds for Jakeland, Rochelle Heights, and Liberty County! To all those reading this blog, it's hard to believe that 2017 is coming to a close, but you all made this a very special year through your support of this blog! We look forward to presenting some really awesome features in 2018! From all of us here at LFC Blog (Actually, it's just MM and me :p), Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! To those who will be serving on those holidays, we greatly appreciate the work and service you provide for us!
LFC Blog: Welcome to today's edition of the LFC Blog, and we are excited to present Zak O, who is one of the most innovative builders! With the Christmas holidays coming upon us really soon, interviews will be reduced to one per week starting this week. Hope you enjoy today's interview!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog Zak! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
ZO: I’m Zak (With a K. Only a K. Not a CH, CK, or C. I like to be different.), 23, and live in the wonderful state of Alaska. I was brought up here by the Air Force about 3 and a half years ago and it looks like it will be my forever home. I’m currently a Fire Dispatcher for the USAF and a Lieutenant for Chugiak Vol. Fire Rescue. I first got into Legos when my uncle bought me a fire department set for Christmas in my childhood years. (It was either 6477 or 6478, maybe even both. I remember having both of them.) I continued collecting other sets, tubs that my mom found at garage sales, and even hand me downs from other family members. I grew up in a firefighter family, so building fire trucks came natural to me.
LFC Blog: Awesome! I think being part of the field is a recurring trend within builders. Who/what inspires you to build?
ZO: Like many others have echoed, I did a google search one day for “Lego Fire Truck,” and thats where it all started. I had no idea of how many people were out there building these awesome things. Lego Twp and St. Lego were the first ones I found. I then just started clicking on the links tab and found so many other sites. So much inspiration.
Currently, everyone and everything inspires me. If I see something cool, I save a picture, put it in a folder to get to at a later date. I’m a total fire truck nerd and proud of it. Being in Alaska, seeing (and driving) so many 4x4 and AWD rigs has sparked that recently.
LFC Blog: Bob K And Tom D are the real legends in the community! I can definitely see the inspiration on your latest rigs! What's in your department's name and why did you settle on the current color schemes?
ZO: West Brickmont is sort of a play on words from a random town in the Chicagoland area where I grew up. Westmont. I saw one of their ambulances one day and thought the name was cool. Added “Brick” in there because everyone else did it. I think they had yellow and white trucks at the time. As far as the Black and Yellow… I liked it. Simple as that. It’s different.
Lake Brickmont is loosely modeled after Lake Geneva Fire Department in Wisconsin. Went there for a day trip and fell in love with that little town. Color scheme is the same, although I may transition to a black stripe with some of the new rigs coming.
Theres quite a few more out there, (LegoLab, Mill Creek, West Brickmont University, Cheyenne Valley, Starved Brick State Park, Overson County) but I’ll spare you the pixels and gigabytes explaining all of those. I could go on all day…
LFC Blog: Haha! That's awesome! All your communities are unique! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
ZO: The most challenging rig would be my International Ambulance. It was my first 6/7 wide truck, and first ambulance I completely outfitted with an interior. Still one of my favorites.
LFC Blog: That is a really really great rig! The interior is definitely cool! What is your most favorite rig and why?
ZO: Although that ambulance may be one of my favorites, my absolute favorite goes to Lake Brickmont Tanker 861. I spent a ton of time perfecting that truck to be the ultimate first-out rural engine-tanker for the area it covers… and even more time on all the graphics.
LFC Blog: Graphics are challenging, and you did a fantastic job with it! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
ZO: For someone that uses the fender flares on pretty much all his rigs… I with they made them in the light grey. All the other “chrome” accents on the rig are light grey, but then having to use black or charcoal grey stands out.
LFC Blog: I agree! Lego needs to diversify the colors of some (or all) their parts! What are your future plans for your departments?
ZO: Future plans are to actually build all the rigs I have planned. I’ll be getting out of the Air Force this spring, and I plan to take the summer off and enjoy myself before starting school next fall. I hope to have plenty of building time in there. I’d eventually like to start designing stations and a town layout when I get into a bigger house.
LFC Blog: Awesome! Can't wait to see your new builds! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
ZO: As everyone else has said, the people. I’ve made a ton of friends. Gunnar N. is one example. Every time I make it back to Illinois for a vacation, I make it a point to drive a few hours down to Indiana to see him and his family. It’s great to not only have a network for Lego, but also real word Fire/EMS networking.
LFC Blog: The people really do make this group special! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
ZO: It sure would be nice to have some more Alaskans up here. Or even come for visit and realize you never want to go home. The moose don’t bite! Actually, they taste super good.
LFC Blog: I've heard great things about Alaska! I'll be sure to visit! Any tips or advice for new builders?
ZO: Like I tell all my new firefighters and EMTs… be a sponge! Absorb as much information as you can. Trail and error in a controlled environment. This community is here for you and we want you to learn and grow into the best firefighter/EMT/builder out there. But not as good as me. We all know that isn’t gonna happen. ;)
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story guys! If anyone wants to know more, feel free to give me a shout.
LFC Blog: Thanks for your great words of encouragement Zak! To those reading this blog, thanks for reading this far and for your continued support!
LFC Blog: Welcome to today's edition of the LFC Blog! It really is an honor to present Paul B, one of the founding members of the LMFD and the owner of New Brickton Fire-Rescue! Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog Paul! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
PB: I’m Paul B, I’m an AFOL but got my start building LEGO fire apparatus when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I have been inactive with new builds for the past 5-7 year but still try to stay active in the LFC. I’m from the Pittsburgh area and work in the Mortgage Industry. In my spare time I volunteer with my local fire department where I hold the rank of Lieutenant and spend time with my family (wife, son, and dog). As you can imagine, I stay pretty busy!
LFC Blog: Awesome! Your work (especially the Quantums) has definitely inspired my builds! So thank you for that! Who/what inspires you to build?
PB: I first stumbled upon Jeff C’s rigs from Sixby Fire many years ago, probably around 1997/1998, I was stunned! There were LEGO fire engines that actually looked like real American based fire apparatus! The more a searched around I found there was a whole community. Woodchuck Fire (Rodney), Lego City Fire (Eric), St Lego Fire (Thomas), and countless others who drifted off the web over the years. I looked at these trucks in detail and thought, I have pieces like that, I could build that. There was not LDD, it was trial and error, spending hours with the bricks designing and redesigning. Showcasing your trucks on a website or on Yahoo Groups. Getting feedback and going back to the drawing boards. There were a group of builders who came on the scene all about the same time, Bob K, Mike L, Paul G, De, and Tony S. This group was pivotal in creating the LEGO Metro Fire District and sharing and giving constructive feedback on the current NBF/R Fleet. Everyone’s trucks and new innovations today, especially with new LEGO pieces remind me that a lot has changed design wise since I’ve become less active in the community.
LFC Blog: Wow! All those names evoked feelings of nostalgia! What's in the name (insert department here) and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
PB: The town I’m from is called New Brighton so I basically just changed the Brigh to Brick and the New Brickton Fire/Rescue name was born. New Brickton has had various color schemes with each station claiming their own. Some did match but if you look at early incident photos there were multiple colored trucks. In late 2007 I made the switch over to white roof, red body, and black stripe. (Minus the Airport rigs) The decal kit from 7239 was also used on all new apparatus. I believe there wasn’t anyone really in the community who was using this color scheme and that’s why I chose it.
LFC Blog: That is really interesting! Lego set 7239 is one of my most favorite sets! There were so many combinations you could do with that set! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
PB: The most challenging truck I have ever built would have to be the replica of my departments 1998 Pierce Quantum. It has been through numerous upgrades to add extra elements of realism including working steps and decals to match my departments truck.
LFC Blog: Pierce Quantums are one of the most challenging rigs to replicate, especially the first generation! And you, sir, have the best first generation Pierce Quantum out there! What is your most favorite rig and why?
PB: I would say that’s a tie between Engines 3, 5, and Squad 4. That design/building style was the direction NBF/R was moving towards. There was/is a 3rd engine (matching the 3&5 spec) on order and a 95% completed KME mid-mount tower. These just need finished up and decaled.
LFC Blog: Great! Those KMEs are really beautiful! Can't wait to see the new engine and the tower! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
PB: A 3 wide lift door. I don’t claim to be a purest by any means but I never had the guts to modify one of these doors. There are some braver builders out there in the community who have though...tip of the hat to you gentlemen.
LFC Blog: I agree! New lift door variations would really be awesome! What are your future plans for your department?
PB: Hopefully to complete the couple unfinished trucks I have in production still is the short term. A long term goal would be begin to start replacing current front line apparatus as they are reaching or have reached a 10 year in service mark. This would be a pretty significant under taking and we’ll see what the future holds.
LFC Blog: Wow! Time really does fly! We would love to see more new rigs from you in the near future! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
PB: The best part is I’ve made friends that have extended beyond the bricks. I chat regularly with a group of guys from the LMFD about everyday stuff and happenings in our lives and careers.
LFC Blog: That is the best part indeed! And that is what makes the LFC special! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
PB: Putting the LDD designs into actual bricks. I know the community has gotten way better about doing this recently, I hope this trend continues.
Secondly, if you have the means to, create incidents scenes! Get the trucks out and have a fire or two. Just think of those poor minifig firefighters all cooped up with no JOBS to go to! LOL It’s a nice way to show case your creations and see different angles of trucks you wouldn’t normally see.
LFC Blog: Seeing the software designed builds come to fruition is one of the best feelings ever! Incidents are really a fabulous way to showcase rigs as well as tactics! Any tips or advice for new builders?
PB: As cliché as it sounds, Rome was not built in a day, nor was any LEGO Fire Department. Build for quality over quantity and build as much as you can when you have the time and funds to do so. You will come to a certain stage in your life and the amount of time and funds you’ll have for this hobby will shift to other things. Most importantly have fun while you’re involved and make friends who will last years outside of the LEGO Fire Community.
LFC Blog: Thank you for those inspiring words Paul! Thank you once again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to converse with us today! To all the readers, thank you for reading this blog, and we will see you next time!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the latest edition of the Lego Fire Community Blog! Today, we have the pleasure of interview Anthony Dryden, the owner of Brickdale Township Fire Department. Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Thank you for joining us today Anthony! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
AD: My name is Anthony Dryden. I am 20 years old and was born and raised in Cincinnati and the surrounding area. I currently reside in Goshen, OH with my wife, Kelsey and my daughter, Evelyn. I am a Firefighter/EMT/FSI with two local departments. I started building custom Lego Fire Apparatus around 2009/2010 after my grandmother gave me Set 7240 for Easter. I had had Lego since I can remember but that is when I first started tinkering with them.
LFC Blog: Great to hear about you and your family! I remember that set! Those pieces were really cool! Who/what inspires you to build?
AD: In the beginning a lot of inspiration came from Tom Duggan, Christian Collins, James Kountoles, and Paulo Rodriguez. I build for the fun of it, it relaxes me after long shifts and is a great pass time.
LFC Blog: Indeed, Lego is a great way to wind down after a long day! What's in the name Brickdale Township and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
AD: Brickdale Township is the name I settled on. In the beginning I had a lot of names (LDD Ruled MOCPages for a while) but I settled on the BTFD after combining the names of my hometown department (Springdale) and another department I admired (Springfield Township).
LFC Blog: Like many of the others before, a lot of city names comes from things near to us. What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
AD: The most challenging rig I built was the Seagrave Sedan Pumper for the BURN Contest way back in 2012/2013.
LFC Blog: That is a really fascinating rig, especially since it's a classic rig! What is your most favorite rig and why?
AD: Favorite rig today is Engine 8. I love Seagrave and I have updated that rig so many times because I can’t take it apart. Something pops about that truck. Alex Wallace’s Sutphen Monarch is my favorite non owned apparatus, that truck is sharp and I have had the privilege of seeing it IRL.
LFC Blog: I can see why: Seagrave is one of the best fire apparatus manufacturers out there! Alex W does build some incredible rigs! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
AD: Wish we had better tools for mini-figs.
LFC Blog: Lego tools have been a popular request by many! And I really do hope that the Lego Company reads this :D What are your future plans for your department?
AD: Future plans include brush trucks, staff cars and two aerial trucks. Updates as usual and maybe another department (in the works).
LFC Blog: Awesome! Cant wait to see what you have in store! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
AD: The best part of the LFC has been taking on this Studington Fire Rescue fiasco. I love the support and the group we have had. Close second is LESA. I love that we all share our work, offer tips and also life advice. Comrades, brothers, friends.
LFC Blog: Speaking out of a personal opinion, Studington Fire & Rescue has been a really cool (or hot, if you know what I mean :p) experience! Collaborating with all you guys (SFR, LESA, etc) has definitely pushed me to become a better builder. How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
AD: I would love to see the acceptance of “Fire Kiddies” and some mentor ship. We have lacked in that aspect.
LFC Blog: I agree! I think that being teachable is something that all of us needs. It doesn't matter how long any of us has been around. There's always something new to learn. Any tips or advice for new builders?
AD: Keep on building. If it doesn’t work one way try it another. Never be afraid that no one is gonna like your rig. As long as you like your truck then you are all good.
LFC Blog: Thank you for those inspiring words Anthony! And thank you also for taking the time to conduct this brief interview! We hope to collaborate more with you in the future! To those who have taken the time to read this far, thanks for your continual support, and we will see you in the next installment of the LFC blog!
Blog Updated: 06/20/19
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.
About the moderating team
Michael P. - Owner of Castle Beach Fire Department, Studington Fire & Rescue Station 11, and Los Angelego County Fire Department
This website is not affiliated with The Lego Company, or any real life fire department for that matter. All builds presented here are original works by the respective builders who gave strict permission to utilize the photos on this website. None of the photos were/are kept for personal use.