Ohio to Spend $650k on "Exploding" Crown Vic Cruisers

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Since 1994, some twenty U.S. police officers have burned to death after their Crown Victoria police car was rear-ended. According to Safetyforum, that's because the Panther-platformed police car's gas tank is flawed in two critical ways. "(1) it is located in the crush zone behind the rear axle, where it is most likely to be rammed into the axle, suspension system or other components and ruptured in a crash; and (2) it lacks protective shielding." Ford continues to defend itself against fire-related Crown Vic police cruiser lawsuits and refuses to pay for fire suppression systems for the estimated 400k Crown Vics patrolling American highways and byways. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Ohio Department of Public Safety is joining those police forces using public funds to address the weakness. The agency plans on spending $643,850 on FIRE Panels to protect its 1630 Crown Vics. Wrapped around the gas tank, the FIRE Panel shatters in a collision and releases a cloud of fire suppression powder. One problem: "Capt. Brigette Charles, chairwoman of a committee that has studied cruiser safety in Ohio since 2003, called the FIRE panel devices 'junk.'" Ford has a more active fire suppression system, but it's pricier still.

Robert Farago
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  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Dec 03, 2007

    @ Gardiner Westbound: The context suggests Ford’s active fire suppression system is not installed in all police cars. If not, why not? A few reasons I can think of... 1) The Crown-Vic is, as a whole, a damn safe highway cruiser - and probably safer than 90% of all other vehicles when hit from behind at highway speeds. 2)The same reason every non-police passenger car lacks a suppression system: Cost - both upfront and long term (maintenance). Having experience with military armored vehicle fire suppression systems (which are impressive), I'm certain they can be twitchy maintenance headaches... 3) Cops get killed/maimed on roadsides because of driver [s]idiocy[/s] error with disturbing frequency. I don't have stats available, but exploding fuel tanks are a distraction from the real problem here: The horrific danger to cops of pulling someone over. Bottom line. If a PD or highway patrol WANTS extra fire suppression, there are enough after market animals to choose from.

  • Whatdoiknow1 Whatdoiknow1 on Dec 03, 2007

    And to think, I did not know anyone was still making cars with the gas tank behind the rear axle! Sajeev, You can defend Ford all you want on this one but the overall design is just plain woefully obsolete to begin with. For a full sized car like a CV to have its tank in the back speaks loudly of why Ford is in the bad shape it is in today. It shows the "good enough" mentality that allows old fashion designs to remain in production well beyond their prime. Every single car I have owned built later than 1986 has the gas tank under the rear seat or between the rear seat and the rear axle, away from the crash zones were it belongs.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Dec 03, 2007
    You can defend Ford all you want on this one but the overall design is just plain woefully obsolete to begin with... So we should punish Ford for making the safest vehicle (overall) under $30,000? You can knock the Vic all day for its ancient suspension, steering and trimmings, I'm with you there. But until we see some high speed crash data on Chargers and Camrys, its obvious that you don't mess with a good thing. A lack of continuous improvement isn't the problem here. Its not rocket science, its crumple zones: the amount of crush space between the gas tank, bumper, axle etc is respectable in the Vic. Modern cars with tiny overhangs are at the same risk @ 70mph impacts because of the lack of real estate for crumple zones. A car with huge overhangs and crumple zones does damn well. I'm still waiting to see any other manufacturer crash test their cars in a 70mph rear end accident. Not to mention no governing body thinks the Crown Vic is unsafe relative to its peers. And I doubt anything will fare better in these terrible accidents.
  • Al-In-Texas Al-In-Texas on Feb 01, 2008

    Gentlemen, Just to clear the air a bit. "Since 1994, some twenty U.S. police officers have burned to death after their Crown Victoria police car was rear-ended." This is incorrect. Since 1984 22 officers have lost their lives in connection with rear end collisions in a CVPI. it is interesting to point out that since 1999 Dodge vehicles (Intrepid-Charger) have had 17 officers losing their lives in collisions and Chevrolet has had 29 in their Tahoe/Impalas. 1 life is too much. The point I am going to make is that its not the car that is the problem but the accident that caused it. CVPI is the ONLY car crash tested at 75 miles per hour. It is important to note that the rear end collisions on CVPI that resulted in fatalities represents less the 1% of all CVPI accidents and that the average speed of the CVPI being hit was in excess of 100 miles per hour. I would like to see a Charger or a Magnum after its been hit at that speed in the rear. As long as we continue to use combustibles to operate these vehicles there are going to be accidents resulting in fire. The energy created by striking a standing 5000pound object at 100 miles per hour is incredible. Some of you crying out about Pintos should know that this is not the same issue at all. CVPI remains the safest vehicle on the road today for law enforcment. It beats Tahoe (4 star crash rating), It beats Impala (3 star crash rating) It beats Charger (4 star crash rating). CVPI is the only 5 star crash rated vehicle on the road today and is also the only vehicle that is crash tested to survive up to 75 mph rear end collision. WWW.cvpi.com One more thing: "whatdoiknow1 : And to think, I did not know anyone was still making cars with the gas tank behind the rear axle!" The gas tank is not behind the rear axle as in closer to the rear of the car, it is located in front of that axle and above it. Same place Dodge put theirs. Chevy has a unitized body so its a moot point where the gas tank is, the whole car collapses upon itself once its hit... at 35MPH. Thanks.