LFC Blog: Welcome to this very, very special edition of the Lego Fire Community Blog. I'm your host, Michael, and today, we are super excited to introduce to you the great Tom D. who is the creator of St. Lego Fire & Rescue Service! Many members of the Lego fire community (including myself) have been inspired by his timeless work! Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Tom! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
TD: I started collecting LEGO when I was around 8 yo around 1979. My first set was set 588 Police Headquarters. I got my first fire station for my birthday, a couple of years later, set 6382 Fire Station. I grew up the street from a fire station, so I always loved fire trucks. I had a town set up in my basement with all my sets, and as fire station sets came out, I would add them to the town. At one point I think I had a fire station at each of the 4 corners of a 4x8 city. So it was a bit overkill, lol, but I didn’t care. Over time, I tried my hand at building my own rigs, but didn’t have much success. When I got on the internet, around 1997 I found Jeff Christner’s site. This was before he made the first six-wide rig, and formed Sixby Fire, and was all 4 wide rigs. They actually looked very nice, for 4 wides. When he made his first 6 wide, I made my own replica, and went from there. I started building rigs, and stations, and around 1999 I started The St. Lego Fire Department. I remember how hard it was back then to find 6 wide windshields. This was before bricklink and ebay, and very few sets used them. I would have to go on to the Alt.Toys.Lego newsgroup and trade for them. Once bricklink opened up, it became much easier to get parts, so I figured I would try my hand at selling rigs. That was very successful, and I sold a couple of hundred over the years. A couple of years ago, I stopped selling on a regular basis, but will still occasionally build one if someone asks.
LFC Blog: Wow! That's great to hear where you got your inspirations from! People today really do take for granted the availability of many parts offered via Bricklink! Who/what inspires you to build?
TD: Like most people, Jeff Christner started me on the 6 wide craze. Most of the people who inspired me are no longer around. Rodney Gentry had some good designs that inspired me. As far as the newer generation goes, I am a big fan of Paulo R
LFC Blog: Jeff C indeed is a pioneer for the LFC! Rodney G built that super awesome tower ladder that I think just about everybody went crazy over! Indeed, Paulo is a fantastic builder! What's in the name St. Lego Fire& Rescue and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
TD: There really isn’t much to the name. I was just looking for something I could use with LEGO or brick or something in the name. At the time I was considering doing Total Quint Concept Department, so I was thinking since that’s what St. Louis was using at the time, it made sense. I have gone through about every color scheme you could imagine. But I do love the Dark Blue bricks, so I wanted to find a way to use them. I am in the process now of changing everything over to black roofs, red body, white stripe, and dark blue bottoms. I will probably get tired of that soon and change it to something else.
LFC Blog: That's really cool to hear where "St. Lego" came from! I really find your current color scheme of black over red and dark blue with a white stripe to be really sharp, especially on the tillers ;) What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
TD: I like to keep my designs relatively simple. I don’t use a lot of SNOT technique, or anything fancy. My rigs can be copied relatively easy just from pictures. I have never been able to make an ARRF type rig that I like, so I guess that’s as close as an answer I can give.
LFC Blog: Cool! I've never seen an ARFF rig from you. I guess that't something to look forward to! What is your most favorite rig and why?
TD: I am a big fan of Tillers. So any of my Tillers. Unfortunately there aren’t many around anymore. But they are making a comeback in my area.
LFC Blog: Me too! Tillers are my favorite kind of fire truck! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
TD: I would love to see a better assortment of roll up doors, and different styles of windshields.
LFC Blog: Having newer kinds of roll ups is one of the more popular items that LFC members have been wanting. I also agree with the windshield variety! It would be really cool if there were variations of the 2x6x2 windshield to better emulate some of the manufacturers' windshields. What are your future plans for your department?
TD: I don’t really have anything new planned. I can go a long time without touching a brick, and then just get an urge and build for days straight
LFC Blog: Glad to know there is hope for me when I don't exactly have ideas to build something haha! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
TD: I like seeing other people’s designs, and trying to figure out how to build my own.
LFC Blog: Reverse engineering indeed is really a fun way to improve techniques! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
TD: It hasn’t been that big of a deal lately, but the whole issue of credit just needs to be put to rest. It was a big problem a while ago, and several people took their ball and went home because of it. I just feel that if your going to get all butt hurt about someone using your designs and not giving credit, then you shouldn’t be posting them. There are only so many ways pieces can go together, and I may have seen it on someone’s rig, and given them credit, but they took the design from someone else, and now they are demanding credit, and so on. Just be happy that someone liked your design enough to emulate it. For the record, Credit is never needed if someone uses my designs.
LFC Blog: The whole credit issue does seem to pop up frequently, especially in the younger builders, and I think that the community, as a whole, does need to learn from what happened in the past. Any tips or advice for new builders?
TD: Biggest thing is build what you like. Don’t try to please others. Also when buying parts from bricklink, buy in bulk. The biggest expense there is shipping. Keep a good wanted list of what you use all the time, and whenever you do need to order that 1 special piece, order as many of what’s on your list as you can. It may cost you an extra 50 cents or so, but in the long run, you will save big time by not having to place another order for those parts and having to pay the extra shipping.
LFC Blog: Those are really good points Tom! Thank you once again for sharing your wonderful insights! I, for one, have learned many things from you! To those reading this blog, thank you for reading today's blog and I hope that you gained something new!
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
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