American LaFrance shutting down in Moncks Corner

      An American LaFrance-built fire truck. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

      MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) -- A fire and rescue vehicle manufacturer announced Friday it was closing its warehouse, production and service center in Moncks Corner.{}

      American LaFrance officials also said facilities in Los Angeles and Ephrata, Penn., were also being closed. The company had about 150 employees, according to an official with the Caromi Volunteer Fire Department, one of American LaFrance's customers.

      According to a release obtained by SConFire, an ABC News 4 partner, the company is telling its existing customers that replacement parts and services manufactured by American LaFrance will be managed by a new third party vendor.{}

      Those third party companies were not named in the release, but American LaFrance said its customer base will be contacted "in the near future" with that information.{}

      "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," the company said.{}

      North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the fire museum does house some American LaFrance vehicles, but the company's closure will not affect the museum's functions.

      Officials for Charleston and North Charleston's fire departments said neither department had any American LaFrance vehicles in their current fleets. However, at Caromi Volunteer Fire Department, officials there were awaiting delivery of a $500,000 fire truck..

      Officials there said they have not received official confirmation from the company, so they are stuck waiting for that before they can cancel their order and find another manufacturer.{}

      In Goose Creek, fire officials there said they had been considering a contract with American LaFrance, but had not yet signed a contract. With the news of the shutdown, the fire department said it would be looking to other vendors.{}

      American LaFrance has a 173-year history with fire vehicle manufacturing that includes{}hand-drawn, horse-drawn, and steam-powered fire engines.

      In January 2008, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but emerged seven months later with a new business plan to focus on the fire truck body building portion of its operation.{}