do to make the cars any safer."
Burbank's fleet has not had the problems of others agencies. The
car has been criticized by consumer groups and police agencies across
the country, alleging that the design of its fuel tank creates the
potential for a rupture and explosions after a rear impact.
In August, the city of Cleveland filed a class-action suit in
federal court alleging the car was unsafe. Lawsuits claiming similar
problems have also been filed in Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey
In the last 10 years, at least nine police officers have died in
fiery wrecks involving the Crown Victoria, according to data compiled
by the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group co-founded
by Ralph Nader.
Ford Motor Co. officials have reportedly acknowledged the
seriousness of the issue. They are investigating how to prevent the
fires in the gas tank and explosions that are said to occur after
rear-end collisions, Heins said.
City mechanics have modified and checked the Burbank fleet based
on Ford's recommend- ations. They have replaced bolts that could have
penetrated the tank, modified a fixture on the axle and removed a
spare-tire assembly, Heins said.
Local police have had their share of car fires, though. Two years
ago, a short in the electrical system caused a fire in a patrol car's
dashboard. Prior to that, three other fires had been reported in 18
months. Faulty road flares sparked those fires, police said.