American LaFrance Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Fire engine maker, which employs about 1,000 workers in six states, has more than 1,000 creditors and over $100 million in liabilities.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Fire engine maker American LaFrance on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing inventory problems and a depressed market for emergency equipment.
In a filing submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the South Carolina-based company said it had problems changing from a unit of Freightliner, which ran the company from 1995 through the end of 2005, to its new owners.
Freightliner provided accounting, inventory and payroll services to American LaFrance through June, the court documents said. When American LaFrance went to a new system, there were inventory and customer data problems.
The company was also unable to finish many vehicles on order, according to documents filed in bankruptcy court. The documents also cited new emission standards that the company said will require vehicle design changes.
The company, which employs about 1,000 workers in six states, has more than 1,000 creditors and more than $100 million in liabilities. American LaFrance's Chapter 11 filing protects it from creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances.
A company spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Monday.
The company furloughed about 100 workers in December, saying some of the layoffs would be permanent and other employees wouldn't be called back until March. A spokesman said at the time the furloughs gave the company time to update inventory after moving last year from Charleston County to a new $62 million plant in Berkeley County.
The company employed about 500 workers locally before the furlough.
American LaFrance operates facilities in South Carolina, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania as well as sales and service operations in California and Oregon.
The company is one of the oldest fire equipment makers in the country, tracing its roots to a company founded in 1832.
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