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!
~Committed to presenting outstanding LEGO firefighting MOCs from around the world!~
Blog Updated: 04/21/20
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
Chief editor - Michael P. - Founder of Castle Beach Fire Department and Los Angelego County Fire Department
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