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Posted on: February 5, 2024

City welcomes three new firefighters to department

Fort Walton Beach welcomes three new firefighters to department.

We’d like to welcome our three newest firefighters to the City of Fort Walton Beach team.

James Mercer is a Fort Walton Beach native who graduated from Choctawhatchee High School and spent four years serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. James worked for the City of Fort Walton Beach’s facilities maintenance department before deciding to pursue a career as a firefighter.

“I missed the fast-paced lifestyle of the Marine Corps,” said James. “and I wanted a job that offered that same sense of brotherhood.”

James graduated from both EMT school and the Fire Academy at Northwest Florida State College in 2023 and is assigned to the department’s Engine 6.


Fort Walton Beach native Eric Kirkpatrick is a Fort Walton Beach native who served in the U.S. Navy from 2012-2017 aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kirkpatrick attended both EMT school and the Fire Academy at Northwest Florida State College.

“I wanted the brotherhood of the military without the shipping out constantly,” said Kirkpatrick. “I’ve only been here for two shifts and I can already tell it’s perfect.”

Will be on C shift Truck 6.


David Leonard grew up in Fort Walton Beach and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School. He worked installing fire protection equipment before deciding to become a firefighter

“I was looking for a career that I could be proud of,” said Leonard. “Somewhere that I could be part of something bigger than myself.”

Leonard graduated from the EMT school at Northwest Florida State College in August 2023 and from the Fire Academy in December 2023.

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