A watchdog has backed plans to close three fire stations as part of a reorganisation of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS).
But the scrutiny committee said the stations at Bosham, Findon and Keymer should be mothballed for a year while the effect of the changes is monitored.
The three retained fire stations earmarked for closure are manned by part-time firefighters.
The Fire Brigades Union has said the closures will make the service poorer.
Pat Arculus, who chairs the community services scrutiny committee, said: "We value highly our emergency services and no change is easy to make.
"We must ensure that the service evolves in step with the changing population."
County Fire Officer Max Hood said the changes were challenging but right for West Sussex.
He said that last year, Bosham answered 107 calls, Findon 45 and Keymer 81.
If the plans went ahead, Bosham would be covered from Chichester, Findon from Worthing and Keymer by Burgess Hill.
Cover would also be improved at Burgess Hill and Littlehampton, and a new fire station and training centre built at Broadbridge Heath, Horsham.
There would also be improved daytime cover at Petworth and Selsey, but East Preston, Horley and Lancing would lose one of their two fire engines.
A final decision on the plans are due be taken by Peter Evans, the county council's cabinet member for public protection.