Much of the volunteer fire department in Blairmore, Alta., has quit in a show of support for the former fire chief who was dismissed by the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

The municipality has not given a reason.

Blair Painter resigned as captain of the Blairmore Fire department after volunteering for 22 years, a decision that he says was tough.

"Very discouraged, very disheartening," Painter said. "A volunteer of 34 years, just to be punted out because we feel he's been singled out as a spokesperson. I just think it's unjust and unfair."

Painter says 16 volunteers at the station have quit, but the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass says it's lost fewer than half the firefighters.

Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson says a full-time paid fire chief was recently hired as part of reorganization process of the fire and rescue services in the area.

"We're looking at a different structure — they'll be station chiefs so, you know, it is a change; it is a change from the way we've done business," Thompson said.

He says Blairmore will be covered by three other fire stations in Crowsnest Pass, all of which are now recruiting for new volunteers.