LFC Blog: Welcome to latest installment of the LFC Blog! Today, we have the honor of presenting James K, the owner of White Ridge Fire, Rescue, and EMS. Enjoy the interview below!
LFC Blog: Welcome to the blog James! Tell us about yourself. When and why did you start building Lego fire trucks?
JK: Well I’m sure a lot of you know me already. Or a little anyway. Currently I’m an EMT-B and Supervisor of Fleet Operations at Syracuse University Ambulance in NY. I’ve worked previously as a volunteer firefighter, wildland firefighter, and fire explorer, and this year starts my eighth in emergency services.
Back in the mid 2000s, I first found the Lego Fire Community on the Internet. Specifically, I found the work of Paul B. on YouTube, and his “New Brickton Fire/Rescue” series of videos. Ad as they say, the rest is history. I built my first truck similar to his Seagrave TL2 (mine was never photographed or posted) somewhere around 2008-2009. I followed his work to MOCpages, and everything took off from there.
Years later, I’m still here, and the builders who I respected and looked up to I’m now honored to call my friends.
LFC Blog: Paul B is a fantastic builder! I think that it's really cool to actually converse with excellent builders and get to know them. Who/what inspires you to build?
JK: I love the fire service. It’s imperfect and tough, but my fellow firefighters and LFC members, they’re family. They keep me motivated and building. Sometimes it’s a rig I’ll find online, sometimes it’s real life, sometimes I just want something cool and unique. At any given time, you’ll find ten or so ongoing projects in my “In Progress” folder on LDD. I keep pretty busy, even if I have to switch between agencies and build styles and continents to stay interested!
LFC Blog: I love how you refer to fellow firefighters and LFC members as family. I've seen some of your European designs, and they are really fantastic! What's in the name White Ridge, and why did you settle on the current color scheme?
JK: I’m not quite sure where it came from, honestly. But it’s stuck ever since! The department has changed over the years in name. Starting as White Ridge Fire/Rescue, it changed to White Ridge Fire & Rescue, White Ridge Fire-Rescue-EMS, and now most recently “White Ridge Department of Fire, Rescue, and EMS”.
As for color scheme, I started with a classic white over red and a tri-color stripe. As my building style progressed, and I started using more SNOT, the stripe has become unrealistic to include. So it’s been all but phased out as of the mid 2010s. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a single stripe on the red of the trucks, but we’ll see where that goes.
LFC Blog: Interesting to hear about the origins of your city name! What is the most challenging rig you've ever built?
JK: I’m not quite sure, to be honest. Every rig has its own challenges- especially when you get into complicated SNOTwork and more advanced build elements. I guess I really don’t have an answer to this question, but the biggest challenge for me is picking which rig I want to go where, what it’ll look like, which specs it needs, etc. Luckily fleet management is one of my strong suits!
LFC Blog: I love how you incorporate the specs into your builds as they add a layer of realism! What is your most favorite rig and why?
JK: If I had to choose, I would have to say the current Truck 1. Truck Co. 1 is a 2002/2012 Seagrave Marauder 95’ Aerialscope, It’s built in an older style (with modern touches) and at one time I prided myself on the fact that I felt it was the most accurate and detailed ‘Scope in the LFC. It was the first aerial that I built entirely on my own, and still sports the tri-stripe. The body has been redesigned since its original build date to be more accurate and better looking. I can say with some certainty that it’ll definitely be sticking around for a while!
LFC Blog: Aerialscopes are really fantastic aerial devices both in real life and in Lego! What is one Lego piece you wish were manufactured and why?
JK: Again, a little too specific for me, but I’d love to see some more pieces that I can use for SNOT. Bricks with studs in weird places. A plate with studs on two sides would be great! Lego has put out some great and useful pieces in recent years… I just wish they’d STOP manufacturing these big pieces that could really be put together out of a couple existing parts. I have a whole box of parts I’ll never use because of these big bulky pieces in sets.
LFC Blog: I agree! We can all use new bricks with unconventional stud locations. What are your future plans for your department?
JK: In the next few years I hope to round out the fleet. Engines (four remaining) and Trucks (four remaining) will take priority alongside the wildland fleet (three new Type 3s) and EMS units (six remaining) under the EMS2020 plan. Some more work will then be put into the SOC units (Squad 5, Squad Support, Rescue 4, PPE unit) and the remaining assorted units left (deluge, air unit, others). Lastly, the reserve fleet will be built up slowly, as units are retired and either disposed of or sent to reserve. Preliminary plans are to have one reserve truck, two reserve engines, a reserve squad, and the reserve rescue.
This will round out a fleet of 13 Engines, 8 Trucks, 4 Rescues, 3 Mini-Pumpers, 4 Squads, 7 EMS units, 4 Tankers, 7 wildland units, 7 SOC specialty units, 12 assorted specialty units, and 8 Command/Chief vehicles.
As for the outlying departments, Excellence and Essex Hill have one unit each to be completed, MedLink has three units to be completed, and NCX has several units that will be added in due time. But have no fear, even once these are done there are still plans in the works for small projects.
LFC Blog: Wow! That is a lot of rigs! We wish you the best in completing your goals! What is the best part of the Lego Fire Community?
JK: The camaraderie. The Brotherhood. It’s like the real fire service in a way. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of LFC members (including Paulo R., Tom D., Tim J., and others) over the years, and meeting builders never gets old. I’ve also had the pleasure of watching new builders come in, improve, and establish themselves in the community. Sure, not every new builder will be the next Tom D., some won’t stick around for long at all, but those that do and create their own styles and techniques and places for themselves will surely be remembered. I love watching people build new things in new styles, create new departments and projects, everything like that. That’s what it’s all about, building together in a community and being able to talk with everyone about the same job we all love.
LFC Blog: That's awesome to hear that you have met some great builders! How would you like to see the LFC grow better?
JK: The LFC has a lot of problems right now. It always has, sure, but it feels like now especially the community is in some tough times. Unfortunately, I see it a lot on Instagram. People come in and directly rip off others’ designs or photos- it’s always happened, but it seems especially bad on that one platform. There is also a distinct attitude problem amongst the newest generation- not all, for sure, but it’s a problem. There’s a lack of respect for builds, for techniques, etc. The older members of the community have been around a long time, but there’s a reason a lot aren’t on many platforms where younger members gather.
Any advice is seen as criticism. Any suggestions are viewed as attacks. Everyone thinks their build is the greatest and wants to argue with anyone who provides advice. There’s also altogether too much “Should I do A or B?”, “Sell or destroy?”, “For sale for (obscene amount of money)!”. Have your own opinions. Create your own place. Form your own identity.
I want to see more originality and less buying. More trying hard and less direct copying. Unique, original builds. People treating others kindly and with respect. People doing their research and trying to learn. Less herd mentality, more uniqueness. Keep building cool things. I’ve seen some of the best and worst work (and attitues) I’ve ever seen in the LFC in the last year or so – I want to see people using their resources to be in that first category instead of the second.
LFC Blog: Indeed, it is sad to see people not respect each other, especially the newer builders who have no idea who the older generation members are. Any tips or advice for new builders?
JK: I promise, younger builders, the LFC has a lot to offer you. But you have to give in order to get back. There are people out there who want to help, and people who want to see you improve. All the world’s LFC resources are at your fingertips, just a Google search away. Use your resources, build, practice, improve, use common sense and decency. Develop your identity. Make a name and a place for yourself in a positive light, and you’ll get everything the LFC has to give.
LFC Blog: Yes, indeed! The internet has so much useful information, and it only takes a couple of clicks to find what you're looking for! Well, thank you so much for taking time to share some of your thoughts James! To those reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed today's content!
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
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