Washington County Fire Coordinator Justin Leach

What started out as a part-time position in June is now a full-time commitment for Justin Leach as Washington County’s fire coordinator. The change came with the new fiscal year.

Leach, 34, is a Panama City native and has been in the fire service for 18 years serving first as a volunteer followed by positions with Bay County and Callaway Fire Departments.

“All the departments have been kind and welcoming,†Leach said. “The volunteers in these departments are as dedicated as I’ve seen. The guys and gals work hard for the citizens out of the goodness of their hearts. I’m lucky to work with them.â€

Leach jumped right into work when he started his new position by going after grants to upgrade equipment for the different departments under him. He has been able to obtain grants for air packs and extrication equipment and said he is working on writing more grants for even more equipment.

“I want to help make Washington County Fire Services as prepared for the future as possible,†he said. “I hope to advance technology and equipment to help us be able to better serve our community.â€

With new equipment comes training. While each department does monthly training exercises, Leach has quarterly training exercises scheduled for all the departments to train together. Recently, extrication training took place where firefighters practiced their skills with newly acquired equipment on four cars that were donated for the training.


County fire services average around 800 calls per year. Those calls are answered by an all volunteer roster, one that Leach would like to see have more names on it.

“We are always looking for more volunteers; that is how we can continue to serve our community,†he said. “The county pays for training, and it is a great way to be of service to others.â€

Leach said his number one priority is providing the best for the citizens of Washington County.

“This is a team effort, it isn’t about me,†he said. “I love my job and I know my firefighters do, too. Our goal is to provide the best fire protection to our citizens. With the dedicated volunteers, I want to see our fire service advance forward.â€

For more information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact Justin Leach at 850-415-5026 or email him at [email protected].