Steven Thompson struck a hat-trick to leave the Pars staring at another defeat, but Liam Buchanan's wonderful strike gave Dunfermline hope before Kirk converted two minutes from time to complete the comeback.
Dunfermline had earlier fought back well from Nigel Hasselbaink's early opener when Jordan McMillan netted his first senior goal in some style.
Thompson headed home either side of the interval to give Saints the first of their two-goal leads but David Graham kept Dunfermline in it before the late drama.
The draw leaves bottom club Dunfermline six points behind Hibernian, who host Kilmarnock tomorrow, but they can take some hope from their spirit.
Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies had declared victory a must and played an attacking formation with Graham and Kyle Hutton, in the first half, playing high up the park behind front pair Martin Hardie and Buchanan.
They carried a real attacking threat, and although it resulted in an open game, it was largely avoidable defensive errors that cost them as they went 12 games without a win.
The opening goal was the prime example. Hasselbaink was left all alone as Paul McGowan looked for a pass on the right flank.
Despite initially looking offside, Hasselbaink appeared to check back onside before McGowan played a simple through ball and the assistant referee kept his flag down as the Pars looked for a free-kick.
The Dutchman ran on to the ball, turned inside Alex Keddie and slotted the ball past Chris Smith.
Hutton had two chances to level in quick succession. His first effort was well diverted by Lee Mair's sliding block but the on-loan Rangers midfielder should have netted after being played through by Graham, instead dragging his left-footed shot wide from 15 yards.
Dunfermline kept pressing and Graham hit the inside of the post with a powerful left-footed drive from 20 yards before Keddie headed a decent chance wide.
The deserved equaliser came in the 24th minute when right-back McMillan cut inside and fired a left-footed effort into the corner of the net from 25 yards.
McGowan soon met Graham Carey's cross inside the six-yard box and seemed certain to score but his header bounced down and against the bar and Thompson could not net the rebound.
Kenny McLean, Carey and McGowan threatened from long range as Saints regained the upper hand and Thompson headed home from six yards after another wonderful cross from Carey.
McMillan did not reappear after half-time after earlier appearing to suffer an injury in a wild tackle on Dougie Imrie, which earned him a booking. Joe Cardle came on in his place with Gary Mason moving to right-back.
Thompson soon delivered another blow when he beat Andy Dowie to Imrie's right-wing cross and headed into the roof of the net.
But Graham pulled one back with 56 minutes gone with a cool finish following a one-two with Hardie.
Dunfermline pushed on again but Thompson completed his treble in the 67th minute. David van Zanten dispossessed Cardle deep inside the Pars half before laying the ball off to the striker to fire into the top corner from 15 yards.
Dunfermline refused to concede, though, and reduced the deficit on 70 minutes. The impressive Hutton won the ball in the centre circle to allow Graham the chance to send Buchanan free.
The pass and touch appeared to take the forward too wide but he unleashed a powerful strike that swerved out of Samson's reach and into the near top corner.
Jefferies brought on two strikers and all the substitutes combined as the Pars levelled in the 88th minute.
There was still time for Kirk to work two chances but he could not hit the target.