Cuts to the fire service will not be as severe as had been feared but councils may have to pay more for the service.

A report presented on Monday to the North Wales Fire and Resue Authority (NWFRA) noted that the service faces an estimated shortfall of £1.9m for 2019/20.

Three options for covering the shortfall were presented to the Executive Board of the Fire Authority on Monday.

The third option would have seen the service relying on cuts to make savings.

This option proposed: “Increasing the combined total contribution from the local authorities by significantly less than £1,898,000 and so requiring significant reductions in fire and rescue services in North Wales.”

But this plan has been shelved and now two other plans will go before a full meeting of the fire authority in the summer, after a decision by today’s executive meeting.

It now looks likely that the six north Wales authorities will have to stump up more cash to fund the service going forward, with the panel steering clear of the option that would see substantial cuts in service.

As a result, the councils will now be asked to fund all or part of the £1.9m estimated shortfall.

Simon Smith, chief fire officer and chief executive of North Wales Fire and Rescue, told members of the executive: “The number of fire stations that we have and the number of fire engines that we have has changed very little since the formation of the authority in 1996.”

He said there had been a “significant reduction” in the number of fires, particularly in the last decade, including a reduction of about 50% in North Wales.

Mr Smith said: “There are some who then argue that that should be accompanied by a parallel reduction in the number of fire appliances, fire fighters and fire stations.

“Others, and I would be one of them, argue that the fire and rescue service is essentially an insurance policy and inherent in the principle of having an insurance policy is that you pay for that policy in the hope that you never have to use it.”

Members of the authority will consider the two options at its next meeting in June.

These will see the money made up entirely from council contributions or a combination of savings and money from the local authorities.