LFC Blog: Welcome to the twelfth edition of the LFC Blog! Today, we are honored to feature Ralph S, the creator of Bricksboro Beach Fire Department. For those who have yet to see his rigs, the apparatus can be seen on Flickr! Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the Blog, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us, Ralph! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
RS: I’m 42 years old, am a physicist and I work for the Dutch ministry of defense. Like many people in scientific or technical jobs, I started building with LEGO at a young age. I don’t really know when I built my first fire truck, but it’s bound to be more than 30 years ago.
LFC Blog: Awesome! That's really cool to know how long you've been building! Who/what inspires you to build?
RS: I find inspiration many different things, but there are two that stand out. About 15 years ago, I bought “The ultimate LEGO book”, which has photographs of models built for LEGOLand parks, including one of a large FDNY tiller truck. That truck has been a massive inspiration for both the scale and the level of detail of my larger-scale fire trucks. Another is building things for exhibitions. I joined Brickish, which is a Lego Users Group, whilst living in the UK about ten years ago. Almost all of the minifig scale fire trucks I built were for collaborative displays with Brickish. These have always been a great motivator.
LFC Blog: Interesting to know how LUG groups play a role in inspiring you to build! I will most certainly look into joining one! What's in the name “Bricksboro Beach FD” and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
RS: Most of my models are recreations of vehicles used by real departments, but Bricksboro Beach FD is the closest thing I have to my own department. It started in 2009 with a collaboration with Brickish called Bricksboro Beach: a Miami Beach –themed city build for which I built almost all of the vehicles, including a few fire apparatus. Unsurprisingly, their color scheme is based on the Miami Beach FD.
LFC Blog: Miami Beach has a really cool color scheme! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
RS: Undoubtedly my 1/22 scale Seagrave FDNY rearmount ladder. Such a larger scale has obvious advantages when it comes to details and working features, but a big disadvantage is that, rather than being able to use ready-made parts that might work at a smaller scale, you have to construct some things practically from scratch. That applies to the ladder, for instance. Making it strong enough and still look good was a challenge. What also made the model difficult was my choice to have it drive and steer using LEGO Power Functions remote control. I’m not a Technic builder by any means, so having it work without gears falling out didn’t come naturally to me.
LFC Blog: Wow! I did not know that the rig could be operated by remote control! The functionality is astounding! What is your most favorite rig and why?
RS: That’s a hard question. I get attached to my models, but since I have to choose, I’ll go with the 1/22 scale London Fire Brigade Mercedes Econic ladder truck. It’s a pretty distinctive vehicle in real life, built with an extra low cab such that it can pass under low bridges and somehow the model came together with every detail and the colour scheme looking just the way I imagined. Looking at it now, a few years after I built it, I still don’t see many obvious ways to improve it.
LFC Blog: That ladder truck really is beautiful! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
RS: The 1x2 jumper plate in transparent clear. Some do exist and I actually have a few dozen, but they were only ever made for the LEGOLand parks, so they’re really rare. This is not really a part that is specifically useful for building fire apparatus, but they sure come in handy for building cars and aircraft.
LFC Blog: Wow! Even I did not know those pieces existed in that color! What are your future plans for your department?
RS: I always have more plans than I have time for. Right now something like the FDNY’s TSU-1 tickles my fancy: a jacked-up International truck with chunky off-road tires that carries a lot of rescue equipment, including a boat on top. How cool is that?
LFC Blog: That really is a fascinating rig! I will be looking forward to seeing you build that rig then! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
RS: I am the first to admit that I haven’t been nearly as active as I used to online. Real life took over. So, I certainly don’t practice what I preach, but any community can only thrive thanks to an active membership.
LFC Blog: Indeed, activity of members is what makes any group succeed! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
RS: I think there’s a lot to be said for meeting in person. It’s not an easy thing to do given that people live in different states or countries, but there are already LEGO events in many different places and getting together there as fans of fire trucks and look at each other’s models “in the brick” might be neat.
LFC Blog: Great insights! Any tips or advice for new builders?
RS: Having an online community has pros and cons. On the one hand, there are all these great models that can inspire one’s own builds. On the other hand, for new builders, I reckon that all the stuff that is already out there built by people who have been at it this for years can be a bit intimidating. You might not how to do something new or original. I think the answer is to experiment. Think about building on a different scale or perhaps building some truck from another country or era. The stuff you learn doing that will also help if you do decide to build your own version of a type of truck that many other people have already built.
LFC Blog: Experimenting is really how I improved my techniques, which contributed to the overall aesthetics of my builds. Again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us today, Ralph! To those reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed this installment of the LFC Blog!
Blog Updated: 02/19/19
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.