Apparatus, Company, News

Report: American LaFrance Closes Doors

On January 17, 2014, word began to spread that American LaFrance, fire apparatus builder, has closed its doors.

SConFire.com reported the following that it confirmed the company closed its doors at 5:00 PM on January 17, advising employees that they were not to return next week. According to SConFire.com, the news affets more than 150 employees of the company.

Courtesy of SConFire.com, here is a statement from American LaFrance:

American LaFrance, LLC, the manufacturer of fire, rescue and vocational vehicles, announced Friday the closing of its warehouse, production and service facilities in Monks Corner, SC Ephrata, PA and Los Angeles, CA.

The company is advising its customers that they will be able to continue obtaining replacement parts and service for vehicles manufactured by American LaFrance from a new third party vendor. American LaFrance will contact customers with information about where they can obtain parts and service for their vehicles in the near future.

Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time and these facilities are not expected to reopen.‎

 


Editors Note:

The first fire truck I ever rode as a firefighter was a 1981 American LaFrance. It was a Century chassis, and to this day I recall it as “sounding” like a fire truck. Whatever seriies Detroit engine it had is synonymous with fire trucks to me. Today’s trucks just dont sound right.

It was 1993 and NFPA 1901 had recently been revised and firefighters weren’t riding the back step anymore. We were, however, still standing in front of the jumpseat area. “Rookie sits,” is what I heard over and over again–unless it was a job. Then I stood while the veterans sat and got their packs on.

There was no exiting on the same side of the apparatus as everybody else because there was an engine in our way.

It was also around this time that we heard American LaFrance would be closing its doors, and there were a few monthly meetings where we approved purchases of certain replacement parts we wanted to have in our inventory in case the company did go out of business. It survived though.

Around 10 or 12 years later, I recall as FireEngineering.com‘s Web Editor sitting in on a press conference over the phone to hear that Freightliner had purchased the company. It survived again. And then there was the purchase by its most recent owner, Patriarch Partners.

American LaFrance‘s troubles have been documented far and wide. The future of the company has been widely speculated. But, there’s still something about hearing the news that it’s over, that an iconic brand has ceased that is sad to me. Business is business. We all know that, but still sad that, at least for now, we won’t see any American LaFrances rolling off the lines.

This company has found different ways to survive through the years. Part of me is really hoping that it happens once again, that a company might purcahse the brand at least, or even the company itself to attempt to give it a new start. The realities of the current economy, however, make it seem unlikely that the company itself will be building trucks again soon.

It’s a sad end to another American brand.

Chris Mc Loone