American LaFrance
Type Formerly Subsidiary (Freightliner)
Founded 1873
Headquarters Summerville, South Carolina
Employees unknown
Dsg Gainesville Fire Truck 20050507

American LaFrance (ALF) is an emergency and vocational vehicle manufacturer, formerly based in Summerville, South Carolina, USA. Focusing primarily on emergency apparatus fire engines and fire aerial including ambulance and rescue vehicles. It was announced Friday, January 17, 2014 they would cease operations.[1]


One of the oldest and most famous fire apparatus manufacturers in America is the American LaFrance Fire Engine Company. With roots that go back to approximately 1832, the companies that went on to become American LaFrance built hand drawn, horse drawn, and steam powered fire engines. Founded in 1873 by Truckson LaFrance and his partners as the LaFrance Manufacturing Company selling hand powered equipment[2]. The International Fire Engine Company, corporate predecessor of American LaFrance, built some steam power fire engines between 1903-1907. Apparatus built by International included everything from horse drawn steamers, hose wagons, and hook & ladders to chemical engines, water towers and combinations. The American LaFrance Fire Engine Company was officially formed in 1903. Its corporate offices and manufacturing plant were located in Elmira, New York. It also operated a plant in Toronto, Canada, where it sold apparatus under the name Lafrance-Foamite, until 1971. ALF delivered its first motorized fire engine in 1907. Over the years, American LaFrance built thousands of fire trucks including chemical engines, combination pumpers, aerial ladder trucks, Aero Chief snorkel trucks, and even airport crash trucks. The classical style of the American LaFrance apparatus is easily recognized. Some of the company's innovations led to changes in the industry, most notably the cab forward style cab. The company has recently undergone a major rebirth and is once again turning out distinct custom fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.

In 1995, the company was bought by Freightliner LLC, which is a subsidiary of Daimler AG. Freightliner continued to utilize American LaFrance's original nameplates and designations including the Eagle custom chassis. Many of their Liberty products are built on Freightliner LLC M2 or Sterling Acterra chassis. ALF has additional manufacturing facilities in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Sanford, Florida, and Hamburg, New York. As of 2005, they are the fifth largest manufacturer of emergency vehicles in North America.

In December 2005, it was announced that Freightliner had transferred the ownership of American LaFrance to the New York-based investment firm, Patriarch Partners, LLC. The headquarters and main plant in Ladson, South Carolina were not included in the transaction. However, Patriarch Partners were allowed to use the plant until early 2007, when DaimlerChrysler began using the plant for assembly of the Dodge Sprinter. Under new ownership ALF relocated within the Charleston, South Carolina metro area in summer 2007 to a brand new facility including manufacturing and corporate HQ, with close to 500,000 sq ft (50,000 m²) of total space.[3]

On January 28 2008, American LaFrance filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On July 25 2008, the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a revised business plan to transfer the firetruck body building portion of the business to the remaining Hamburg, NY (formerly RDMurray Inc.) and Ephrata, PA (formerly Ladder Towers Inc.) facilities. The Summerville, SC plant would continue to manufacture fire truck cab and chassis, but would increase their focus on vocational vehicles and the Condor vehicle line. On January 17, 2014, the company announced it was ceasing operations.[4]


Historic vehiclesEdit

  • Type 1 1903-1904 Steam-powered Combination Hose & ChemicaL Wagon
  • Type 3 1906-1906 Packard "N" Two-Tank ChemicaL Car - only 1 built
  • Type 4 1909-1909 Simplex based chassis - 2 built
  • Type 5 1910-1911 First complete ALF motor fire apparatus - 4 cyl.
  • Type 6 1910-1914 LaFrance Commercial truck
  • Type 8 1908-1910 ALF roadster type passenger car
  • Type 10 1911-1920 Improved larger version of Type 5
  • Type 12 1911-1925 6 cyl. 800, 900 & 1000 GPM pumper
  • Type 14 1912-1926 City service ladder truck
  • Type 15 1913-1925 1400 GPM Pump and hose car
  • Type 16 1912-1916 Front drive aerial ladder truck
  • Type 17 1913-1926 Tractor drawn - aerial, water tower, ladder
  • Type 18 1913-1913 2-wheel front-drive steam fire engine tractor
  • Type 19 1915-1928 1000 GPM Pump and hose car, 6 cyl.
  • Type 25 1914-1914 Front drive, straight frame aerial ladder
  • Type 28 1915-1915 Front drive service ladder truck
  • Type 30 1914-1914 Front drive, bevel-gear drive water tower
  • Type 31 1915-1929 2-wheel front-drive tractor
  • Type 32 1915-1927 LaFrance/Model "T" Ford, Alf "F" series
  • Type 33 1917-1926 Front drive straight frame service ladder truck
  • Type 34 1916-1916 Centrifugal pumper
  • Type 38 (19??-19??) Previous entry not listed in reference source
  • Type 40 (19??-19??) Previous entry not listed in reference source
  • Type 45 (19??-19??) Previous entry not listed in reference source
  • Type 52 1922-1927 "Village Queen" Model "T" Ford trailer pump
  • Type 63 (19??-19??) Previous entry not listed in reference source
  • Type 65 19??-19?? 400 GPM Junior pumper
  • Type 75 1915-1927 750 GPM 6 cyl Pumper - large number built
  • Type 91 1927-1927 500 GPM Pumper - Buda-6 cycl. engine
  • Type 92 1927-1927 600 GPM Pumper - Buda-6 cycl. engine
  • Type 94 19??-19?? Service ladder truck, Buda-6 cycl.
  • Type 96 19??-19?? Same as Type 94 but configured as a Quad
  • Type 99 1927-1932 GMC Cosmopolitan, Buick 6-cyl. - see 100 series
  • Type 500 1941-1946 Narrow cab and body design
  • Type 600 1941-1946 Narrow cab and body design
  • 100 Series 1926-1929 Metropolitan
  • 200 Series 1929-1931 Master
  • 300 Series 1931-1935 V-12 powered, 312A
  • 400 Series 1933-1938 Junior 450/600/475 GPM
  • 400 Series 1935-1940 Senior1000/1250/1500 pump-in-cowl design
  • 500 Series 1938-1941 New enclosed streamlined design
  • 600 Series 1941-1946 Improved 500 Series
  • JO/JOX Series 1938-1946 mid-mount aerial ladder - Cab-ahead
  • 700 Series 1947-1959 Cab-ahead-of-engine design
  • 800 Series 1956-1958 Updated 700 Series (Pumpers only)
  • 900 Series 1958-1974 New wide-cab design
  • Pioneer I, II & III 1964-1978 Also Sparton I TCM flat-panel cab
  • Pacemaker 1973-1976 TCM canopy cab-forward
  • 1000 Century Series 1970-1974 Premium version of 900 Series
  • Century Series 1974-1985 New wider cab
  • Century 2000 1986-1994 Redisign by Kersey/ALF
  • ALF Eagle 1997-present All-new custom chassis
  • ALF Metropolitan 1999-present Entry-level custom chassis
  • Freightliner Business Class, M2 2002-present Commercial chassis

Modern model rangeEdit

American LaFrance Simplex

1912 American LaFrance Simplex 9.5l 4cyl. touring car (98PS)

1916 American LaFrance Speedster

1916 American LaFrance Speedster automobile

'28 American LaFrance Fire Truck (Byward Auto Classic)

A 1928 American LaFrance fire truck from Ottawa.

American LaFrance 75 No 3542 20080620

American LaFrance 75 No 3542 2008 in Germany

Crossett Engine 13 - 1954 American LaFrance Type 700 Fire Engine

A restored 1954 American LaFrance Type 700 pumper.

Tacoma Engine 17 - 1970 American LaFrance Fire Engine

A 1970 American LaFrance Type 900 pumper.

Autryville Area Fire Department Engine 1211 - 1979 American LaFrance Century Type 1000 (retired)

A 1979 American LaFrance 1000 Century Series Pumper.

York Nebraska Engine 620 - 1990 American LaFrance Fire Engine

A firefighter holds a baby, in front of a 1990 American LaFrance Century 2000 pumper.

AmericanLaFrance Fire engine

1958 American LaFrance Series 900 Fire Truck at the Texas Transportation Museum

Dsg Gainesville Fire Truck 20050507

2000's era American LaFrance fire truck


Supplied to other body builders for custom appliances to be built on

  • Eagle
  • Eagle Mid-Engine
  • Eagle SE
  • Metropolitan
  • Commercial
  • Condor

Emergency apparatusEdit

Std body style options (exact spec to suit needs)

  • Pumpers
  • Aerials
  • Tankers
  • Rescues
  • Ambulance
  • Wildlands
  • Liberty

Municipal applicationEdit

  • Refuse
  • Construction
  • Airport Service
  • General Utility

See alsoEdit

References / sourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • 100 Years of American LaFrance by Walter M.P. McCall 2005

External linksEdit

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