North Devon has escaped the worst of the feared cuts to its fire service.

Appledore Fire Station will remain open. Picture: Matt SmartAppledore Fire Station will remain open. Picture: Matt Smart

Appledore and Woolacombe fire stations - initially set to close - will remain open, while new revised plans appear far less harsh than the initial service changes put forward last year.

Councillors of the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority agreed today (Friday, January 10) to a raft of measures that had been put forward to save money but also to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service.

They agreed that Lynton's second fire engine should be removed, but it will be replaced with a new wildfire 4x4 and all terrain vehicle.

Proposals to implement day crewing only at Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton, rather than the current 24/7 cover, have been deferred, subject to a revised 24/7 crewing model being agreed with the Fire Brigades Union.

A packed meeting at Woolacombe Village Hall in the summer to discuss the feared closure of the community's fire station.A packed meeting at Woolacombe Village Hall in the summer to discuss the feared closure of the community's fire station.

'Risk-based availability' will be introduced for the second fire engines at Brixham; Dartmouth; Honiton; Ilfracombe; Okehampton; Sidmouth; Tavistock; Teignmouth; Tiverton; Wells; and Williton, rather than initial plans to only crew the second engine at night.

The original proposals put out for consultation last summer had sought to close six stations including Appledore and Woolacombe, and downgrade Barnstaple to on-call cover only at night.

There was fierce opposition from across North Devon and Fire Brigades Union members, who feared the changes would put lives at risk.

The decision follows 3,818 responses to the initial proposals that saw 95 per cent of people opposed to all six closure options put forward.

Today's news wasn't as good for other parts of Devon and Someset - Budleigh Salterton fire station will close and the affected fire fighters will now respond from Exmouth, while Topsham fire station will be relocated to Service Headquarters (Clyst St George), until an on-call crew can be established at Middlemoor.

The third fire engines from Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil stations will also be removed, but will instead be replaced with alternative vehicles that have a fire fighting capability.

Lee Howell, chief fire officer, said: "We are confident that we can secure alternative ways of working with our whole time staff which will allow us to undertake significantly more prevention and protection activity which will also make communities safer."

He said the proposals they have put forward derive from the options consulted on and the consultation responses and aimed to strike the balance between driving reform and enabling re-allocation of resources to risk, specifically providing more prevention and protection activity

He added that the new proposals would also cut the risk of fire deaths from 7.99 a year to 7.65 a year, and road traffic collision deaths from 33.72 to 33.02.

The fire authority members are appointed by the constituent authorities of Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Torbay Council and Plymouth City Council to oversee the provision of fire and rescue services for Devon and Somerset.

In total, there are 26 members, consisting of 16 Conservatives, five from Labour, four from the Liberal Democrats, and one Independent.