Welcome to today's edition of the LFC Blog! Today, we are especially privileged to have one of the founding members of the Lego Metro Fire District, the one and only Mike L aka "The Enforcer"! Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog, and thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to reminisce! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
ML: Hello to all the new aspiring builders out there! Some of the old timers who still lurk
may remember, others, not so much. My name is Mike, and I once went by the nickname
“Enforcer” as was the case. I am a 29 year old recovering Lego addict, and continue to work
in the field of EMS/Rescue.
Well let’s see here. I’ve been a Lego fan for as long as I can remember. I began to
get serious about the prospect of building more realistic in the early 2000s. By this point in
time the internet was starting to become a thing in my life and would ultimately lead to a
collision course that there was no preventing. I stumbled upon the first Lego fire sites in
2001/2 and quickly began exploring my options. At this time, Bricksburg was selling 4 wide
kits, and I convinced my parents to invest for me. I loved these models, but subsequently
stumbled upon early six wide pioneers. There were many incredible, talented builders on
the scene very early on. I remember practically worshipping the skills and designs of some
of these builders. It wouldn’t be long before I began manufacturing my own six wide trucks,
and the race was on.
LFC Blog: Very interesting story! I never knew that Bricksburg sold 4 wide kits! Who/what inspires you to build?
ML: This is a perfect segway into the next answer. Those early pioneers were my biggest
inspiration. It’s funny to think how many of them I befriended from that point on. Lord knows
many of them can attest to how much I bugged them looking for advice. Almost all of them
are or were in the LMFD. You can basically piece together who I’m talking about. In 2002
when I came onto the scene, I was just 13 years old. Some suspected my age but I did my
best to play it off or hide it. Looking back, I am happy I entered the arena when I did though.
This hobby was a great gateway into my adult life profession and helped me make some
My inspiration has always been in the unique and functionality. I love looking at
interesting apparatus and attempt to put them into bricks. One of my first truly interesting
builds that helped put me on the map was a tractor drawn heavy rescue, followed up by an
Amertek MACI military firetruck. To those who knew my fleet, they could see how every
truck I strived for something different. Even today, once in awhile I’ll see something very
different and immediate start speculating how I’d make it in bricks.
LFC Blog: I most definitely remember that tractor drawn heavy rescue. Easily one of my favorites from you! What's in the name North Lereado County Fire Protection District and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
ML: The department I am most famous for, is the once well regarded North Lereado
County Fire Protection District (LMFD ST.14). The name is pretty hard to explain. I have no
connections to the real Laredo county. It was mostly a play on words stemming from Lego.
It was unique though, so it stuck. It was better than the original department name that used
my last name. That had to go.
As for the color scheme. Other departments use it now. Back then though, it was
defining. In 2004 I was looking for other ways to differentiate my trucks from the other
departments. I experimented with a lot of variations. Ultimately though, I chose a blue stripe
and instantly fell in love. The blue stripe was a defining characteristic and stood out in a sea
of white stripes. I further accentuated this by adding in a tiny obscure decal from the Town
space sets of the early/mid 90s. This little logo has hung around ever since.
LFC Blog: The blue stripe color scheme is one of the more unique patterns that I had seen at the time. I certainly miss the individuality builders had before as it was pretty easy to tell whose rig belonged to who. Today, it's very difficult to distinguish who built what. Part of me longs to see that level of creativity from of old. What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
ML: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I have to say there were several difficult builds.
Some were surprisingly simple. I struggled for years with a decent SNOT design for
compartments. Mastering them took time and patience. I would honestly say some of my
most challenging builds have been in the digital realm. I remember a Seagrave Low-Pro cab
being a challenge to design in a way that was structurally sound. I would also say,
designing a Quantum cab that did not require use of cut or “custom” bricks was also
extremely challenging. This was around 2008, when LDD was brand new and limited in its
functionality. Nonetheless, I figured out a design that would stick around for a time.
Over the years, I have continued to use LDD to push my personal envelope of
design. I have generated quite literally hundreds of designs and variations, on a much larger
scale and variety than just fire apparatus. I have come to greatly enjoy military designs and
the challenges associated with them. I would love to build them, but unfortunately many of
the parts required do not exist in the colors I would need. The cost to build them would be
insane as well. Someday I may showcase them.
LFC Blog: I can most definitely relate to spending a decent amount of time to improve my SNOT techniques! Military designs are challenging due to the strange shapes and colors. Kudos to you for attempting them! We hope to see those creations one day! What is your most favorite rig and why?
ML: This is another difficult one to answer; I generally love all the trucks I built. Many of
them are deeply special to me. Squad 1 for example, was a perennial favorite because it
was one of the first true six wides I built, and continued to tweak and improve over the
years. It was in general based on an older Lego Twp. design. That truck continued to be a
crowd pleaser for years. More recently (my definition of recent here is quite different from
what you’d expect) I’d have to say NLCFD Squad 4 is a personal favorite. It was my first
Velocity, and also my first PUC. When it was built, it was a trend setter and many of today’s
Velo’s and PUCs can trace their design lineage to that very truck. I can’t stress enough
though, I love all my apparatus. Ones I disliked were generally scrapped until I settled on a
design I could be proud of.
LFC Blog: I think it's interesting that Squad 4 is one of your most favorite rigs! One of my most favorite parts about that particular apparatus is the black rims! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
ML: Admittedly, all the parts I wished were manufactured now exist. I could have really used a number of available parts today ten years ago. If I ever return to building I’ll spend a small fortune retrofitting dozens of trucks!
LFC Blog: That would be awesome! Here's to hoping that you'd come back :) What are your future plans for your department?
ML: Unfortunately, this question was answered long ago. There are no plans sadly. Numerous old proposals were drafted, and parts were purchased to further boost the fleet. Sadly those plans never came to fruition, and likely never will. My time has come and gone. I continue to sit on a strategic reserve of parts in a well-guarded subterranean facility.
LFC Blog: Like I said previously, we wish you'd come back, however, we are very grateful for the time you spent building rigs. And speaking of which, what is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
ML: Quite simply; friendship. I cannot begin to express the joy I have gotten out of the friendships that all started in this community. Several of whom I can comfortably call close friends, and even a best friend. Some of my longest friendships were born of this community. Many of which date back to 2002/3. AOL instant messenger was the main means of chat back then. A far cry from what is available today. I relish those times very much.
The Lego Metro Fire District, once considered the platinum standard of lego fire groups; while initially created out of necessity, was created from friendship and understanding just as much. We became an incredibly tight knit group, and shared ideas, inspiration, assistance with designs, and just ‘shooting the shit’ (pardon my language). To this very day, we still keep in contact through more modern means. The activity has quieted down a great deal, but our shared interest and community continue to endure. We continue in many cases to chat on a more professional level. Many of us were very much just kids with a hobby when the LMFD was formed. Today, we speak amongst each other with years of learned knowledge and experience. I will always be grateful for what I have been able to take away from this community.
LFC Blog: Most definitely! Through the unique hobby of collecting/ building Lego fire trucks, I have had the privilege of getting to know some really amazing people too! And I hope others can say the same too. How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
ML: I have not kept up with the community in the least in many years. It was by pure chance that I even have gotten this far as to be participating in this unique opportunity. Once in a while through LMFD channels, things will get passed along to me; but I lack the time or true interest to participate. I also don’t want to re-enter the stage after living in the community limelight for so long like I did. There are much better builders than I setting trends and standards now. I just can’t see myself jumping back in and expecting anything less than a number of confused builders asking who the heck this guy is. I’m happy with what I did, when I did it. Sometimes it’s best to just move on. Key word is sometimes.
LFC Blog: That is very understandable. Any tips or advice for new builders?
ML: Never stop innovating. Keep trying to make that dream design no matter how many times you fail. Sometimes you have to walk away from a project and sit on it for a while. Eventually inspiration will come to you. I am not lying when some solutions to stalled designs came in dreams. Crazy as that may sound, they have worked. There is so much fun and opportunity associated with being a builder and designer. There is also great satisfaction in helping other builders figure things out. I always disliked simply duplicating designs or just outright asking someone else to do the work for you.
Along those lines, don’t be afraid to reach out to experienced builders. Just learn that there’s a time and place, and that people have a right to their privacy. Don’t nag and don’t push them or you may very much wind up back at brick one. Lastly, I always tried to practice what I preached, and that is quality over quantity. Never forget that.
Side note: thanks for letting me participate! What a trip down memory lane.
LFC Blog: Well, thank you again, Mike, for sitting down with us today! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors! To those reading this blog, thanks for your continued support! Your constant words of encouragement are what really motivate me to run this blog! If you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list so you know when the next blog post comes out! Till next time!
Blog Updated: 04/04/19
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.