In a show of solidarity for their chief and assistant chief, more than 20 Stanley firefighters turned in their gear.
The mass exit leaves nine responders.
Within hours of their termination by town officials, the new chief was already in uniform, according to WCNC.
Former Stanley Firefighter Michael Russell explained: "These two gentleman were not given the opportunity to apply, not considered, just fired, no warning, no heads up."
The assistant chief was recently named North Carolina's Firefighter of the Year, Russell added.
Stanley Mayor Steven Denton told the media that the change is all part of the town's reorganization of public safety operations. It provided funds to hire a full-time chief and a new public safety director.
Russell said the current firefighters on staff had to also reapply for their positions. The new chief declined to comment on the application process.
“The state office of fire marshals, and it doesn’t even meet their standards," Russel said.