Nearly Entire New Mexico Fire Department Resigns

The mass exodus of volunteer firefighters has left a small northern New Mexico town with virtually no fire protection.

A total of 18 firefighters resigned from the Cuba Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday night, leaving only three firefighters to cover the town, according to KOAT-TV.

"It's hard for us as well, as you can tell we love this department," former Fire Chief Alyssa Short told the news station. "We love this community, (the) people in the community, and that's who we're there for."

Several firefighters the decision has to do with politics and is years in the making.

They said they're tired of the lack of support from Cuba's leaders, who they claim have refused to send them to EMT training and purchase new equipment.

The town's mayor has denies those claims, and said that the dispute is instead over the hiring a new fire chief to oversee Cuba's emergency services.

Residents fear that they won't be protected if there's a fire, though Short said neighboring departments should help fill the void.

"I would be concerned that it may take a little bit longer for that help to get there, but somebody will still come," she said.

Sandoval County Deputy Fire Chief Jess Lewis said his department will "absolutely" respond to fires in Cuba, but that the response times will suffer due to the lack of volunteers.