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Photos: JFK Airport Rescue Truck Takes a Licking and Needs Rescuing of its Own

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Written by: Phil Derner Jr.
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In what may be a $750,000 mistake for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), one of their airport rescue trucks at JFK became severly damaged while driving around the airport’s taxiways.

The apparent path to the wrecked vehicle indicates that the truck was driving near the beginning of runway 13R, exited the pavement at the end of a taxiway, possibly bouncing hard into the dirt, causing the axles for both front and aft wheel bases to snap.

PANYNJ tells NYCAviation that the truck experienced a mechanical problem and became disabled. The incident caused a Port Authority police officer to receive a non-life threatening ankle injury and was transported to North Shore hospital.

Due to having a large fleet of rescue equipment, the truck being taken out of service has had no effect on JFK Airport’s ARFF index, which is the measurement of an airport’s rescue capabilities that legally allow aircraft of various passenger capacities to legally operate at an airport.



About the Author

Phil Derner Jr.
Phil Derner founded NYCAviation in 2003. A lifetime aviation enthusiast that grew up across the water from La Guardia Airport, Phil has aviation experience as a Loadmaster, Operations Controller and Flight Dispatcher. He owns and operates NYCAviation and performs duties as an aviation expert through writing, consulting, public speaking and media appearances. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.



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  • DSAG

    Always safe to drive in the Big Apple, there drives are just so god 😉

  • John O’Donohue

    So they bought a truck without reviewing or any assessments on reliability, ruggedness, strength and surivivability? Stupid deparment wins stupid prizes

    • AverageJoe

      From my understanding, the truck was not at fault. Nor was it lack of properly trained personnel. There was an operator error. The operator thought he was on a different taxiway that extends further than this taxiway, and drove off the edge causing it to go slightly airborne. This is why the axels broke. Axels are meant to carry a load and absorb general average shock from normal operations. Being dropped fully loaded is not in the specs.

      I’m just glad the driver and other personnel on board weren’t injured any worse.

  • Joe W

    Huh… Imagine That !

  • Bob smith

    Cops don’t belong driving firetrucks…

  • John

    Another example of the lack of training in fire suppression for cross-trained public safety officers. Demonstrates why the FAA fined the PANY $2M and are forcing them to form separate police and fire departments.

    • Chris Ruppenthal

      John, stop your whining. You obviously have some agenda or personal gripe with the PA. And, by the way, the “lack of training in fire suppression”, really wouldn’t make a difference because there was no fire! Oh, one more thing…they’re Professional Police Officers and ARFF Firefighters and receive the best possible training. Speak about a topic you know about and keep your jealousy from your remarks.

      • Spicy

        Nothing John said was untrue. If by the best possible training, you really mean someone lying to the FAA, then your spot on.The Public Safety concept should be outlawed. It fails the public on BOTH ends, fire and police. If they really want the best training, then they should come to the South Carolina Fire Academy ARFF program. Everyone else does, we turn out winners.

        • kymax_payne

          “If they really want the best training, then they should come to the South Carolina Fire Academy ARFF program. Everyone else does, we turn out winners.”

          What a load.

          Last time I checked the FAA built around 16 training centers across the US. You’re not the only one and you’re certainly not the best IMHO. I will also tell you from first hand experience that Public Safety DOES in fact work. Sounds like someone has an axe to grind because Columbia is in the process of converting to Public Safety.

          • Spicy

            You pro DPS guys are all the same. That Pic is me, and everyone that’s anyone knows Spicy. kymax_payne sounds like someone that wears a dress with pumps. (if you can’t take the hit, don’t get in the ring) Your right, you have a choice in ARFF training and SCFA is the best choice in the country, ask our long list of returning clients. We have a IFSAC Basic every month, sometimes two a month. The ARFF/Driver operator will be up soon, we do FAR 139 Refreshers daily and we can customize any course to fit the needs of any kind of department. You don’t like us, don’t use us. I don’t live in Columbia, and I have no axe to grind. The short comings of that poor decision will come to a point sooner than later. Remember this, if the Public safety concept was so great, every city, every county, every airport would use it.

          • Chris Ruppenthal

            Wow…talk about a bloated ego. Pick me! Pick me! I’m the best! Your name is “Spicy” guy…Did you pick that because you lead such an exciting life and you live on the edge man?!? Gives me the Douche Chiills…

          • Spicy

            Oh no, I’ve upset the Airport police! Oh my! Attention the green zone is for loading and unload of passengers only! If your an airport cop, you’ve lost me already. It’s like a step slightly above mall security, or is it? Both have food courts, and segway’s right?

          • Bob Schmidt

            “Spicy” The Port Authority Police STILL provide ARFF protection at the three NY/NJ airports. They protect the over 136 Million passengers who travel through the NY Metro area annually. While they will be more than happy to tow your car if you leave it in the “Green” zone, they also respond to shootings, robberies, drug smuggling, major motor vehicle accidents within the state of NY and NJ. In fact 37 officers lost their lives during rescue operations at the WTC, which they also protect. Officers are in the Joint Terrorist Task Force still tracking down terrorists that still attempt to attack the NY/NJ airports every day. I have personally responded to 7 high impact aircraft crashes, and many of my brothers and sisters on that job have responded to even more. Frankly “Spicy” the last time a commercial aircraft crashed in South Carolina it was 1954. So either you are very old, or you have NEVER walked the walk. SO now you teach at the SC Fire Academy were your main job seem to be instilling cops. Well remember ” People that can DO, and People who can’t teach!” Go Tigers!

      • Mike Barry

        You’re right Chris. This John guy
        apparently has an axe to grind with us because he doesn’t have his facts right,
        but most clowns don’t. They just sit there in their stained boxer shorts and
        vent on the computer. Had John any intellect, or if he’d loosen his tin foil
        helmet, he would have read the FAA report and he would know that the FAA NEVER
        had an issue with our fire fighting capability. The fine was for paperwork
        violations and had NOTHING to do, whatsoever, with ability to fight fires. In
        fact, if John read the report, he’d know that we EXCEED FAA mandates. But facts
        don’t matter to a blow hard…they never do.

  • Dana Lewis

    A lot of Airport ARFF dept’s have personnel who are both police and firefighters that some change their roles every 6 months. The truck, which is an Oshkosh make, are very reputable in heavy equipment for military, highway maintenance, and ARFF vehicles. Although this truck had a tremendous weight load from it’s water tank, it is designed to drive in off-road situations, so there must have been some underlying issues with the chasis or axles that may have been stressed during it’s time in service (cracks, wear). Additionally, they also have supercharged diesel engines for speed; it is an FAA requirement that these ARFF vehicles respond from their station to the furthest point of the airfield within 3 minutes.

  • Someone is SO GROUNDED.

  • Neil J Keohane

    Too bad the cops don’t drive the fire trucks Bob Smith they have there own rescue crew

  • Cappy

    it is one of those situations where you need all the facts, we have all been in situations where it could go well or go bad depending on the circumstances, it is amazing that the vehicle did not roll and no one was seriously injured, i imagine you turn in your badge when this occurs, bummer

  • Reaper

    The ‘Back To The Future’ Delorean, flew with it’s wheels out like that. Maybe this crew and Oshkosh were going back to the future? But they didn’t have the flux capacitor…

  • Don

    Around 1974 I worked at Garsite industries who built airport equipment. I worked on a huge fire truck that dispensed foam. The front of this thing was a pay loader. The cab turned with the wheels. The trailer was the tank, pump and on top was a turret type nozzle. I believe it went to Kennedy airport. I cant even find a picture of it anywhere. Has anyone seen this thing?