Almost half the population of the Northland town of Mangawhai has signed a petition asking the Fire Service to remove a well-known firefighter from the town's Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Mike McEnaney, the face of fire safety for years on TV, was recently demoted as senior station officer at Mangawhai for using threatening language to a volunteer.
The petition has been signed by 970 people in a week. It said 15 firefighters had resigned from the brigade in the past three years, because of Mr McEnaney.
Experienced volunteers who have left told RNZ that Mangawhai was now at risk because new brigade recruits were not qualified in emergency driving or operating the pumps.
Mr McEnaney and another station officer, who are trained for those jobs, both work as paid officers in Auckland during the week.
Local businessman Trevor Downey said the experienced firefighters would not return unless Mr McEnaney left.
There had been a total lack of respect for their unpaid service and years of experience, he said.