Eric S. McDonald was born on October 10th, 1971 in Minneapolis, MN where he lived until he was five years old. In 1976, both he and his mother moved to Anoka, MN. According to Eric, he never knew his father. He lived in Anoka till he was 18, when he made a few moves here and there with his future wife. He was married in September 1990, however, his wife would leave 6 months later. Their divorce was finalized in 1996 and in the meantime he moved back to Anoka where he raised his two daughters as a single father. Eric worked as a full time dispatcher and EMT for an ambulance company. He was also a volunteer firefighter and was studying to become a paramedic.
Eric had several hobbies and interests, but none of them came close to his love of LEGOŽ fire apparatus and stations, and along with that, his own Lego City Fire Department.
He began collecting LEGOŽ at the age of 9 and continued till the age of 20, when he gave away all of his LEGOŽ, except for the fire apparatus and stations. It is known that the Lego City Fire Department first started in 1982 when it began with one engine and four firefighters using one small building, which was made from cardboard. Not much is known about his LEGOŽ collecting betwen 1982 and 1997, suffice to say he accumulated a large amount of LEGOŽ fire apparatus and stations during that time. Around December 1997 Eric, also known online as FireMed3 and later as LCFDFireChief, began lurking on the usenet newsgroup, rec.toys.lego. Eric started out buying and selling LEGOŽ to further expand his LEGOŽ fire apparatus collection and on July 9th, 1998 the Lego City Fire Department web site was created. The department would grow, adding many more stations and apparatus, until his death in 2002. To give you an idea of the size of the Lego City Fire Department, in the year 2000 the department consisted of 188 pieces of apparatus in 20 fire stations, the training grounds, museum, and the five story headquarters buliding which also housed the fire department's shops. Note that by 2002 he had 26 stations, 9 EMS only stations, and dozens more apparatus then he did in 2000. Most of his apparatus were regular LEGOŽ sets, however, he did have a few original creations too, mainly the special units. Surprisingly, the Lego City Fire Department web site remained online until October 31st, 2008, the day AOL shut down their web hosting service.
Eric died in a motor vehicle accident while off duty in rural area of Minnesota on August 21st, 2002. No other details about the accident could be located.
McDonald, Eric S., age 30, of Anoka, died accidentally 8/21/2002. Worked as a dispatcher for HealthEast and had nearly completed his paramedic training. Survived by mother, Linda McDonald; children, Samantha, Kaylea and Hunter; grandparents, Arvie & Betty Gaarder; uncles, Bruce, Neil and Danny Gaarder; cousins, Nancy Altringer and Mark Gaarder; many friends. Preceded in death by uncle, Arvid Gaarder. Funeral service Saturday, 1 pm, with reviewal one hour prior at Thurston-Lindberg Funeral Home, W. Main St. & Branch Ave., Anoka. Visitation Friday, 4-8 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred. Thurston-Lindberg (phone number removed) Published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on 8/23/2002.
Hopefully his greatest legacy will be left to his daughters, however, he had a large impact on the LEGOŽ fire community, and in fact, helped mold the community itself. All the mutual aid groups, current and past, originated with an idea that Eric and I came up with to help expand his PageNet system for the Lego City Fire Department. Instead of him calling on ficticious departments near Lego City for mutual aid during large fires, he could call on other real life LEGOŽ fire departments, run by other LEGOŽ fire apparatus enthusiasts. The Lego City Fire Department also represented the one of the largest known and displayed LEGOŽ fire apparatus collections on the internet. Eric kept meticulous records of meetings, named all of his personnel, had a detailed budget, ran several discussion groups, prepared run surveys and annual reports, calculated Lego City's ISO rating, and kept track of much, much more, using good old pen and paper.
Eric, My Friend:
Even though I never met Eric in person, I considered him a close personal friend. For many years we spoke several times a week via e-mail or in various discussion groups. We bounced ideas off each other, talked about fire apparatus, and even joked around at times. I found out about his death from a post in alt.firefighters and was in shock. I couldn't believe it. The firefighter who posted the news to the group, found out from the EMS usenet group that Eric also belonged too. It was posted there by another firefighter who knew some people who worked with Eric at the ambulance company. I checked Lugnet and a few other LEGOŽ groups, but I couldn't find any news about his death posted there. It was with great sadness that I typed up a message to Lugnet and a few other LEGOŽ groups and notified the community about his death. Due to his buying and selling of LEGOŽ, he was known by quite a few people and had dealings with LEGOŽ enthusiasts all around the world.
Miss you buddy...
Your friend, Jeff Christner