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1989 Oshkosh T-1500: Airport Fixture


I blame Legos for my fascination with airport rescue vehicles. There was a set I lusted after, featuring a firetruck, helicopter and rescue building headquarters with working garage doors. That’s why this ’89 Oshkosh T-1500 find from Barn Finds reader Jim S caught my eye, listed here on eBay for a cool $15,000. The fact that airports seem to get their own special breed of fire rescue trucks always struck me as odd, since they serve the same purpose as any one of the hundreds of firetrucks parked in firehouses across the U.S. I suspect another airport will be the most likely bidder on this lime yellow example offered by Manchester Airport, a regional hub in New Hampshire that’s a popular alternative to the always-busy Logan Airport in Boston. For never having left the airport, I’m amazed it has over 12,000 miles on it! Have any of you ever driven one of these gigantic rescue rigs?


  1. boxdin

    There is a guy who made a massive motorhome out of one of these. A real Beast.

  2. Chris in Nashville

    Pretty sure these aren’t road legal. Was in Emergency services most of my life and got for a few rides in these. They are generally 12 to 15 feet wide and would not fit on public roads.

    • Chris in Nashville

      Just reaearched… This unit is 118 inches wide, maximum legally allowed for the road is 102 inches.

  3. James

    sadly we don’t get stuff like this in the UK
    My brother is in the fire service over here and I have a few mates that maintain the pumps so ive had an interest in them over the years.
    even at the local BP refinery we don’t have anything this size as if we did I would be doing getting a shot in it

    • Horse Radish

      I know you’re British, but that last sentence needs to be translated.

  4. Duncan

    I believe these are capable of shooting a fire retardant foam mix as well as H2O… so a pretty different machine.

  5. Brian

    These vehicles are different than a regular fire truck. The aircraft fire fighting trucks have the ability to pump from the roof and bumper turrets while the truck is moving. They do require a class B cdl with tanker and airbrake endorsements to operate due to weight. I drove an oshkosh AS32 P-19A while in the Marine Corps

  6. Michael

    Like Duncan said…these are designed to spray a special foam so are wildly different than a regular pumper or engine. They also have a huge tank capacity as they typically operate at remote locations among other things

  7. Steve

    Contrary to what the original author thinks, airport fire trucks share very little with your average fire truck. In one of my previous jobs as an airfied electrician, i got to see these trucks up close while the fire department was training. Their latest had a remote control nozzle that could penetrate the fuselage of an aicraft and inject fire retardent foam inside. They had built a stand near our lighting control vault to simulate the fuselage for training. At my airport, there was an oshkosh like this still in service as well. One of the reasons for an 89 model vehicle to have 12k miles is every time they received an alert that an aircraft was in trouble, they staged to the runway/ taxiway area. They do not wait for a plan to crash before responding. It is very rare that a plane crashes on the airport without warning. Also, they were also the first responders to the airport terminal any time time an alarm was received.

  8. Chris

    I wonder what the original purchase price was. I bet north of $200k.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Chris, not sure about the cost when new, but a new Oshkosh Striker 1500 costs over $700,000.

  9. Chuck

    I don’t see it on this one but one of the signature pieces in most Oshkosh equipment is a window in the driver’s floor. They can climb up such a steep incline that the window in the floor is used to see over the break so you can see where you are going.

  10. PaulieB

    Having lived in NH for the past 34 years and a former Manchester resident I know that when they bought this truck the airport was tiny in comparison to now. The Manchester Airport went through major expansions in the 1990s and have continued to upgrade their facility over the past 20 years and tacking on the city of Boston’s name to their name just to make more travellers reconsider travelling out of state. How it racked up all that mileage is a puzzlement.

    • Horse Radish

      26 years old,
      12,000 miles,
      less than 500 miles a year,
      1.5 miles per day.

      Not so surprising unless they built the fire house in the middle of the runway it should have run that much, just to keep it working when you need it…….. I see Chris’ comment….

    • Ken M.

      The firemen who operate vehicles like this are required to maintain currency and proficiency in their use by driving for X number of hours over a given period of time. Dual purpose of keeping skills sharp, and keeping the equipment in good working order. I’ve been at several airports where they’re just driving around on whichever runways or taxiways that aren’t in use at the time, and that’s the explanation I was given.

  11. Jim Mc

    This is a fraction of its both original price and current real value. Airport authority managers from around the country should be looking at something like this at this price. I’m surprised they haven’t listed it in some kind of services directory for that industry.
    Problem is that once you have it, if it’s an upgrade, you have to train a crew to use it. And if it’s a downgrade and to be used as a backup or replacement for a different rig, the crew is going to have to figure out its differences to the old one. A pro rig like this is no good if you don’t know how to use it and how to train people to use it.
    Great find.

  12. Chris in Nashville

    That is not a lot of miles. The runway at that airport is 1.7 miles long. If you consider it was in service for 26 year, that works out to 1.2 miles a day. Considering all the training and call outs these vehicles get, that seems like low miles to me. While I was in Raleigh NC one of the airport trucks drove out onto I40 and helped put out a tanker truck fire that was near the airport. It was quite a site to see that beast on the Interstate.

    • Ed P

      I agree with Chris. 12,000 miles on that beast is nothing. The Detroit Diesel alone should be like new. The problem is, what would you do with it. The truck may not be street legal. If you live on a farm, it could be used to water the crops.

  13. Fireman Dan

    I’ve been in the fire service 10 years they have some extraordinary machines at Denver International Airport that I’ve toured. Truly awe inspiring in there stature and capabilities. El Toro the Marine Corps air base had these and more. Most have very easy uneventful lives ………but need them once they are worth their weight in gold. Even Aspen Colorado airport has some kicking equipment not sure what model. Semper fire lol

    • Brian

      El toro would have had the AS32 P-19A. This was the truck that the Marine Corps used at all air stations. The A stands for aircraft and the S stands for structural. Therefore they were suitable for aircraft or structural fires but were mainly used as a back up for the base fire dept on a structural fire.

  14. David C

    This vehicle is 9’3″ wide / 112″. I’m not sure if it could be street legal or not.

    • Chris in Nashville

      Maximum road legal is 102″.

  15. Cliff Oswald

    Looks like some tirework could bring it within code. You really don’t need such wide tires if you convert it. If you have the 100k to convert it, you can do Africa with it.

  16. Howard A Member

    I can hear the cops response when they pull you over. “Ok buddy, where’s the chemical fire?” Seriously, what do you do with this, and considering it’s hardly ever used, is it really that much out of date? ( I have the same gripe when fire depts. buy new equipment, when the older stuff works just fine) Sadly, it will probably end up at a small town airport, where it will sit behind a hanger, or to the great rescue vehicle boneyard somewhere.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      The governing bodies that determine fire protection based on insurance loss, only consider equipment that is x years old (the exact number evades me) regardless of mechanical aptitude/miles/hours. After which the apparatus may be used, however it is not considered in the tally of equipment.

      Often such equipment gets regulated to ‘spare’ status, before finally being retired.

      Fire protection standards, technological development and OSHA requirements evolve and regardless of intentions or regimented mechanical maintenance these rigs (structural fire rigs too) simply become antiquated despite appearances.

  17. jim s

    sold for $ 12000. someone got a great deal.

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