FIREFIGHTERS at Southend are the first in the county to take delivery of a new specialist fire engine.

Essex Fire and Rescue Service crews are currently training to use the new aerial ladder platform – known as an Alp, for short.

The new machine can reach almost 100ft upwards, almost 80ft sideways – and also 55ft below ground level.

It is the first of five new Alps ordered by the fire service. The Southend-based machine will replace an existing, less versatile one, which has been in service for 17 years.

Deputy chief fire officer Adam Eckley said: “The new Alps are an example of the significant investment the service is making in ensuring we have first-class resources available on the front line.

“They have been designed precisely to our specifications, incorporating learning from the experience of other fire and rescue services. That makes them ideal for our needs.”

The fire service was unable to tell the Echo how much it had paid for the new machine.