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American LaFrance Files for Bankruptcy

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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- American LaFrance LLC filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The South Carolina-based company also announced that it will be closing its Sandford, Fla. plant and will no longer manufacture ambulances.

"With the closure of the Sanford plant, American LaFrance will discontinue the manufacturing of ambulances," the company announced in a prepared statement posted on Monday afternoon. According to the statement, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in part, because it didn t properly disclose inventory as obsolete when it was acquired in Decembe 2005 by Patriarch Partners, a New York based investment firm.

American LaFrance experienced operational disruptions caused by the installation of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as the company transitioned away from the computer system of its previous owner, Freightliner LLC, the statement continued. Due to the issues with the ERP system, American LaFrance has incurred about $100 million in secured debt.

"For a short while American LaFrance will be in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is a legal reorganization process to make the Company stronger," the statement announced. The company estimates it will be in bankruptcy protection for 90 days and expects to begin manufacturing fire apparatus after March 10. "At the end of those 90 days American LaFrance will emerge from bankruptcy with ample financial strength to continue long into the future."

"That s really all we're going to be able to say today," Michael Gordon, American LaFrance's director of fire product marketing said at a phone press conference.

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