October 15, 2014
Gatesville - A Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) van caught fire today around 1:30 PM at the Hilltop prison unit in Gatesville. A passerby captured the incident on video. At the time of the fire, no inmates were on board the vehicle. No injuries are being reported at this time. The van was a total loss as flames quickly spread throughout the vehicle.
With an aging vehicle fleet, the State of Texas continues to prolong the replacement of equipment and facilities, even though its more costly to maintain in the long run. State budget writers mostly plan for two year budgets where the least amount of money is spent, even though replacement of aging vehicles would be more cost efficient for taxpayers in the long run.
Currently the Texas Department of Criminal Justice vehicle fleet consist of approximately 2,200 vehicles. The vehicle replacement budget requested for the 2016-2017 fiscal year was reduced to $6,906,785 from $11,040,894 in 2014. (See Legislative Appropriation Request LAR 2016-2017)
The agency's conservative replacement criteria for vehicles include:
-Diesel truck tractors 10 yr / 500,000 miles
-Diesel buses 10 yr / 300,000 miles
-Passenger vans/vehicles 5 yr / 100,000 miles
This replacement criteria is hardly ever used and state employees are subjected to driving dangerous vehicles that have hundreds of thousands of miles on them.