By Deb Patterson
WINONA LAKE — The first of three RamFan VX Power Stream fans was dedicated tonight, Thursday, Feb. 18, by the Kosciusko County Fireman’s Association at its meeting. The meeting was held at Winona Lake Fire Station.
Named Titus 1, the 20 hp Honda gasoline motor, is the realization of a dream the late Winona Lake Fire Chief Mitch Titus had before his death, just over one year ago.
Titus came up with the idea of getting three fans to station around the county – south, central and northern areas. He began the fundraising, which was briefly halted after his death on May 5, 2019, from a workplace accident. Local departments and businesses picked up the effort and raised $23,000 for the first unit. This unit will be housed at Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Station 3.
The remaining two fans, when purchased, will be named Titus 2 and Titus 3. Fundraising will continue to purchase the remaining two fans.
Kevin McSherry, president of the county fireman’s association, noted this unit is unlike any of the exhaust fans used by local departments to clear buildings of smoke. “We can put a fire hose to it and it blows a mist. It is great on a hot day to rehab firemen,” he said. But it has other uses as well. It can evacuate smoke from a building and push it away from inventory in a business, push smoke out of the building so “we can get in there and extinguish the fire as well. There’s so many pluses,” stated McSherry. He also noted it can be used to push fresh air to livestock if electric fans in a barn shut down one reason or another.
A letter was read from Mike Lewis, Lewis Salvage, one of the major donors, by McSherry to firefighters present. The letter expressed appreciation rom the company of the dedication of county firefighters and first responders to their jobs and “the help you have provided us when we need you. For that you have been our heroes.”
The letter noted Lewis asked Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief Mike Wilson if there was something the company could do. Titus’ name was in the forefront so “we remember the great things he did for so many of the people in the area, is family and friends. There wasn’t any hesitation from Mike to tell me about this machine,” Titus continued in his letter. “It was something Mitch got started and was important to him and you to help all county residents and businesses. I will also assist asking other county businesses and individuals to come forward with funds, so that you may be able to buy one or two more … place in different parts in the county so fire departments can quickly get the fires out, clear smoke from structures so fast and be able t get people and animals out quicker and safer. Thanks for being there when we need you to show up and help all of us as a county to have the right tools for you.”
The group of firefighters, members of the Titus Family, and donor representatives were taken outside and given a brief demonstration of the power the machine had.
A plaque is on front of a storage bin on the fan’s trailer. The names of the major donors are listed and include Mike and Rita Lewis Family, Winona Lake and Silver Lake Fire Departments, Grace College, Paragon Medical, Complete Fleet and Kerlin Bus Sales and Leasing.
Business donors at the gathering included Roger Bradford, Kerlins; Cory Colman, group vice president and Tabitha Cooper, marketing, from Paragon Medical. Among the private donors represented was Joe Baranowski, a Winona Lake resident who is neighbors with several volunteer firefighters.
McSherry noted that donations will continue to be taken to purchase the remaining two units. Donations can be given to any fire chief in the county or to Silver Lake Fire Chief John Conley, county fire association treasurer.