City of Fort Walton Beach congratulates two firefighters on their recent promotions.
Thearon Shipman was promoted to the position of Battalion Chief on Dec. 9, 2023.
A Fort Walton Beach native and Choctawhatchee High School graduate, Shipman joined the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department in 2002 after working as a volunteer firefighter with the Mary Esther Fire Department.
Shipman was promoted to Driver/Engineer in 2009, and to Captain in 2015. Most recently, he served as Captain/Paramedic at the department’s fire station on Lewis Turner Boulevard. Shipman has been a certified paramedic since 2008 and is an instructor for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Life Support (PALS).
In July 2022, then Captain Shipman, Fort Walton Beach Firefighter Alex Ahern, Driver/Engineer Justin Hill, and Battalion Chief DJ Stone were recognized by the city council for their efforts in rescuing an autistic child and a family dog from a house fire.
As Battalion Chief, Shipman will oversee three separate crews of firefighters manning three firefighting vehicles from the department’s two fire stations.
James Freudenberg was promoted to the position of Captain on Jan. 11, 2024.
Freudenberg joined the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department in 2017. Before that, he worked as a firefighter for Jackson County Fire Rescue in Marianna (2010-2015) and Walton County Fire Rescue (2015-2017). Freudenberg was promoted to Driver/Engineer in 2020 and has been a certified paramedic since 2013.
“The lifestyle is what drew me into wanting to be a firefighter,” said Freudenberg of the close-knit family culture that is typical of fire departments. “These guys did everything together, even outside of work. Plus, they had some really cool toys.”
And Freudenberg knows something about toys. For the past six years, he has headed up the fire department’s Christmas toy drive that, with the help of more than 50 local business partners, helped brighten the Christmas for 280 children this year.
Freudenberg said his career was helped by senior firefighters who mentored him, and now he’s looking forward to paying that back.
“I’ve had several officers and drivers who mentored me; made sure I got the proper training and education and opportunities to progress, said Freudenberg. “Now as a captain, I want to pass that knowledge on.”
In his role as captain, Freudenberg will be responsible for two firefighters and a driver/engineer who make up the crew of the department’s Truck 6.
We congratulate both men on their promotions and thank them for their service to the City of Fort Walton Beach.