Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thomas Duggan and the St. Lego Fire Department

When it comes to protecting a city as large as St. Lego, Thomas Duggan has it covered; land, air & sea. With an estimated 66 vehicles and 1210 personal based out of 29 stations, St. Lego might be the single largest lego based department in existence.
The apparatus are from a mix of manufactures including Pierce, Seagrave and American Lafrance with a variety of engines, aerials and rescue’s. To add to the amazements of his department, Tom has created stations to match. Not just a couple, but 29 actually created stations! Station 18, pictured, is a well represented creation of an early 1900’s fire house with arched bay doors and tower.
Tom took some time out his schedule to be interviewed by FireBricks...
Tell us about yourself. Who is Thomas Duggan?
Hmmm...looking for an ancient history lesson are you?
I was born Dec. 15 1971 and grew up in Somerville MA, just north of Boston.
Youngest of 5 children. My father was a mechanic/business owner/handy man, and my mother was a housewife/kid raiser/odd jobber. I would describe us as a typical middle class family. At 14 my father became sick with a long illness and passed away when I was 16.
At that point I quit school and found a job. I worked mostly retail jobs for many years, and actually met my wife while working at Home Depot in 1995. We married in 1999. 5 years ago I was able to get a job working as a 911/police/fire/EMS Dispatcher for the Town of Lexington MA, and have been working there ever since.
How did you get started with lego and how long have you been building? Did you have a Dark Age?
I always had LEGO when I was a kid, and my friend had a large box of just mixed brick we would build with.
But I would say the catalyst that got me started was on Christmas, either 1979 or 1980 I got set 588 Police Headquarters, and I was hooked! After that all I wanted was LEGO...that year for my birthday I got set 6382 Fire Station, and a few months later 6375 Gas Station.
That was the beginning...I soon set up a table in my basement and started my own town.
It just grew and grew from there.
I never really had a "dark ages". There were times when I lost interest, but not because I thought LEGO was for little kids, but because I was interested in other hobbies. But I always came back to the brick.
Any other hobbies to speak of?
Like most boys my age, I was a big fan of G.I.Joe and Transformers. I also became a fan of comic books. Mostly Spider-Man and The X-Men. I actually have a rather large comic collection, over 4,000 ccomics, but I haven't collected them for 15 yrs or so.
About 4 years ago, I did start getting nostalgic for my old G.I. Joe figures. All mine were destroyed when I decided they would make good target practice for my BB gun.
Well I started buying some of the old figures on e-bay, and from comic stores, and have purchased over 600 figures the past few years. (But don't tell my wife!)
Any lego groups and forums are you a part of?
I am a member of NELUG (New England LEGO Users Group) and have been since 2000
We do several train shows a year, as well as some charity events, and on occassion have worked with LEGO on special projects. The biggest of these being the Millyard project at the SEE Science center in Manchester, NH
I am also a member of the LMFD and have been since it started.
What made you want to focus your lego building to fire related mocs?
Growing up, my father used to be a fire chaser. I remember being woken up many times in the middle of the night to go to a fire nearby. I also grew up about 100 yards from a fire station, and when I got older, would chase the trucks on my bike. So you could say I was always interested in fire apparatuss and equipment.
Do you create anything else besides fire related mocs?
I also make trains and other town related buildings that are used on some of our train displays.
How much time do you spend a week devoted to lego?
I don't spend as much time as I used to. I guess you could say I'm in a building funk right now. I am kind of out of ideas, and don't know what I want to build next.
The only time I seem to spend building nowadays is on rigs that people are buying. I have been getting 2 or 3 orders a week recently, and that seems like the only time I am building.
I am hoping to get back into the full swing of things soon though.
Tell us about the Fire Department of St. Lego.
I started The St. Lego Fire Department in 1999.
At the time I was still new to the whole internet thing, and decided to try and build a web page. I remember seeing Jeff C's Sixby Truck, and making my own version, and from there, I just kept going. I remember in the early days, parts were so hard to come by. This was before Bricklink, and e-bay was still relativly new. I used to go on news groups and beg and plead with people for 6-wide windshields. 
-What was your inspiration to create a large scale department?
Like I said, in the early days, parts weher hard to come by, so when I was finally able to get the parts, all I wanted to do was build! So I just kept building and building until I physically ran out of room to store stuff.
-Was there a real life fire department that you follow for structure?
When I first started out I would follow the procedures of the Somerville MA Fire Department.
Growing up on the east coast, I always new it would be an east coast department.
But as it got larger, I started combining different procedures from different departments.
I have Squad Companies like the FDNY, Task Force Engines like th LA City Fire Department, and a seperate EMS Service like Boston EMS.
-What was the estimated time to complete the department?
I couldn't even put a number on that! It has been a work in progress for close to 12 years now.
-What does the future hold for St. Lego? Any goals or projects in mind?
I'm kind of on auto pilot right now. I don't have any real big plans. I would like to re-do the web site, and possibly a couple of stations. I am also interesed in making a couple of two peice Squad Companies, ala Chicago, with the second piece being a snorkel.
Other then that, I think I am happy with where things stand now.
Many builders look up to you. What advice can you give them?
One thing I have noticed lately is that people are so concerned about getting credit for something they have done. My advice would be to stop worrying so much about credit.
If you have your own style, the people that matter would know what you were the inspiration for. There are only so many ways to put bricks together, that eventually someone will come up with the same way you use, whether they have seen your work or not. So basically my advice is to lighten's a toy!
I've also noticed some builders try and make an EXACT replica of a rig they have seen in real life. Sometimes this just doesn't work. They end up with huge bumpers, or lights all over the place. My advise here would be to select one or two things you really want to emphasize, and and forget about the rest. Sometimes less is more.
As a veteran to the fire community, what would you like to see more of? And for that matter, less of?
Lately alot of people seem to be using LDD to design their rigs, and then they post a screenshot of the rig. I have no problem with people using LDD to design their rigs, but I would like to see more people actually BUILD the rigs they design. For me, unless I can hold my creation, it just doesn't seem like I designed anything.

1 comment:

  1. I build with LDD but have intent to purchase all the rigs I design... Is this a bad thing??? I'm just wondering...