Sheriff’s deputy safe after patrol car burns

Submitted photo

BARDWELL — An Ellis County Sheriff's deputy is safe after his 2010 six-cylinder Dodge Charger caught fire and burned. Bardwell Fire Department responded to an Ellis County Sheriff's vehicle fully engulfed in flames near FM 985 and McCrady Rd shortly after lunch on Thursday. The sheriff's deputy escaped and was uninjured.

Preliminary reports suggest a possible electrical fire originating in the trunk area of the vehicle. The Ellis County Fire Marshal and Department of Public Safety are investigating the actual cause.

The average lifespan of a police vehicle is three to four years for vehicles used by multiple officers and five to seven years for take-home vehicles used by a single officer. Vehicles used by multiple officers have shorter lifespans due to their nonstop continuous use during each 24-hour period.

Many law enforcement departments around the United States begin replacing vehicles at between 75,000 and 100,000 miles because of the risk of vehicle failure and increased maintenance costs. Reliability becomes a significant issue.

Sheriff Johnny Brown has previously attempted to convince the Ellis County Commissioners' Court to upgrade portions of the fleet but has faced opposition from some members of the commissioners' court prior to the swearing in of two new commissioners this year.

Vehicle fires are not uncommon in the United States. The National Fire Protection Association reported 164,000 vehicle fires in 2013. There were 925 injuries, 300 deaths and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. This equates to 449 vehicle fires per day and about 18 vehicle fires per hour.