Freightliner LLC will sell its American LaFrance fire truck-manufacturing arm to the New York-based investment firm Patriarch Partners LLC.

Under the deal, Patriarch will assume control of the operating assets of American LaFrance, which is the country’s fifth largest fire and emergency services vehicle producer with a heritage dating back 173 years. Patriarch said it plans to maintain LaFrance’s manufacturing facilities and corporate-owned dealerships.

DaimlerChrsyler, Freightliner’s parent company, noted that LaFrance’s Ladson, SC, corporate office building and assembly facility is not part of the sale – though it will be used in part by American LaFrance until 2007.

Patriarch -- an investment fund based in New York with offices in Charlotte, NC -- provides portfolio management services to eight leveraged funds and a private equity fund, which in turn owns and manages a $5 billion portfolio of 65 international companies and credit facilities. Lynn Tilton, Patriarch’s founder and CEO, said he hopes to build up the LaFrance brand name to increase its value.

“We believe that our acquisition of the businesses and trademarks of American LaFrance affords us a platform with prodigious potential for expansion,” he explained. “[The company] is already a highly regarded and recognized player in this important and competitive market.”