MRO Magazine

Major explosion destroys Falk Corp. buildings

Milwaukee, WI -- A major explosion and five-alarm fire occurred at the Falk Corp. facility at 3001 W. Canal Street ...


Industry

December 7, 2006
By MRO Magazine

Milwaukee, WI — A major explosion and five-alarm fire occurred at the Falk Corp. facility at 3001 W. Canal Street in the Menomonee Valley outside of Milwaukee, Wisc., shortly after 8 a.m. on Weds., Dec. 6, 2006. Three people were killed and 46 injured in the blast, thought to have been caused by a propane leak at the facility.

Falk is a global manufacturer of industrial mechanical power transmission products, including standard and custom gear drives, couplings and backstops. It was acquired by Rexnord Corp. of Milwaukee in May 2005. Rexnord also is a manufacturer of industrial mechanical power transmission products. Falk employs about 700 people at the facility.

Three workers who were confirmed dead are Curtis J. Lane, 37, of Oconomowoc; Thomas M. Letendre, 49, of Milwaukee and Daniel T. Kuster, 35, of Mayville. Several buildings caught fire and two were destroyed.

Milwaukee police chief Nan Hegerty said Falk was already evacuating the building and investigating the propane leak when the explosion occurred. “Had they not been evacuating the employees that were in that building, the death toll would have been much higher,” she said in a press conference.

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A Falk employee said a leak had been found in one of six large propane tanks behind the warehouse building that workers called the annex.

Falk management has told its employees that they will be paid and will continue to have full benefits. They were also told that the company hoped to rebuild the plant. The company also is putting together a fund for the families of workers killed in the blast.

A Rexnord/Falk Explosion and Fire Information Line has been set up at 414-643-2420.