Kevin Gelbaugh is Winona Lake’s new volunteer fire department chief.
The Winona Lake Town Council approved of him to serve in that position at its meeting Tuesday.
Former Fire Chief Mitch Titus died May 5 after a workplace accident. His place at the town council table had his picture at the fire chief’s seat until last month when it was presented to his family, along with a golden axe.
Gelbaugh has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter at Winona Lake.
A full-time day-shift sergeant with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Gelbaugh will be in charge of the daily operations of the approximately 30-member volunteer fire department.
However, there may be times when he may not be able to make it to a fire.
“If I’m not available, one of the assistant chiefs or line officers are in charge,” Gelbaugh said.
The promotion came after he was approached about it.
“I was asked by members of the department” to go for the fire chief position, he said. He was one of two people that went for it; the other being Capt. Terry Himes, who is a retired Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory officer. Himes joined Winona Lake as a volunteer.
Gelbaugh said he didn’t know why he was the one that was picked to be chief, but he felt honored.
He doesn’t have anything that he plans to improve on in the fire department.
“Mitch did a really good job. It’s going to be really hard to fill his shoes,” Gelbaugh said.