Malaga volunteer fire department walks out

Posted at: 10/15/2013 6:52 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In Eddy County, an entire volunteer fire department walked out, and other fire departments could be next.  KOB Eyewitness News 4 went to Eddy County to find out what’s going on.

The Malaga Volunteer Fire Department is empty Tuesday.

After a heated meeting Monday night, the volunteer firefighters who usually work there decided to quit, including volunteer assistant fire chief Roy Burkham.

“Me and the department is taking a leave of absence. Him being present indicates the county is ignoring the request of the chiefs stating that we want him out of the fire services," said Burkham.

That person Burkham is referring to is Joel Arnwine, the Emergency Manager.

And the Malaga Volunteer Fire Department isn’t alone.  Volunteer firefighters across Eddy County have threatened to walk off the job if Arnwine stayed.

But the County Manager Allen Sartin tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 there are no plans to remove Arnwine.

“I think they make their own decisions," said Sartin.

Even with an empty fire station sitting in Malaga, Sartin said he’s not too concerned.

“I’m not overly concerned, no," said Sartin.

The department is in a busy oil and gas town, where traffic accidents are common.

“I responded in a two week period, I responded to 17 accidents, two of them were fire, the rest were medical cause.  Six people dead," said Burkham.

Just Monday, the Carlsbad Current-Argus covered a three-semi crash where one man was killed.

The Malaga fire department was on the scene of the accident within minutes. And if an accident like this were to happen again, the closest fire station is miles down the road and could take longer.

“It delays responses a minimum of 3-5 minutes," said Burkham.

The fire department that will be taking over for Malaga is in the nearby town of Loving.