FIREFIGHTERS rescued three workmen when the crane cage they were in got stuck 50 feet in the air.

Security staff at the University of Essex in Luker Road, Southend, raised the alarm after the crane broke down while the men were putting up banners at fourth floor level.

Two crews from Southend were sent and the Urban Search and Rescue team was mobilised from Lexden for its rope rescue capability but it was stood down before arrival.

Crews positioned the aerial ladder platform alongside the cage and brought down two of the men and the crane restarted allowing the other one to come down safely.

The men were cold and wet but unhurt.

Assistant Divisional Officer Martyn Hodder said: "It was raining heavily and the men had been stuck for approximately one and a half hours before they had to call the fire service for assistance.

"Crews positioned our own Bronto hydraulic platform in front of the works vehicle and were soon alongside the stranded cage. In failing light and poor weather conditions, two of the men were carefully assisted across into the safety of the Bronto cage.

"In rescuing them, it greatly reduced the weight in the Hiab cage which then re-started, allowing the remaining workman to operate it and lower himself to the ground under his own steam where he was reunited with his colleagues and fire crews."