SOUTHEND fire station is set to lose a specialist vehicle used to cope with serious road accidents from its service if the county authority goes ahead with new proposals.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have released plans to remove the specialist rescue engine from Southend should it get approval at a meeting on Wednesday.

The vehicle was first introduced in the mid-Nineties and carries specialist equipment, including cutting tools, to remove casualties involved in road crashes.

The vehicle’s use has decreased in recent years as front line fire engines become better equipped.

It only attended 74 calls during 2011 and 2012.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Rescue tenders no longer have a useful role as part of our emergency response.

“Continued investment means frontline appliances now carry most of the kit which was once only found on rescue tenders.

“The Southend and Harlow rescue tenders are the least used in the service.

“This is why they will be the first to be removed.”

The Southend and Harlow rescue tenders are set for immediate removal, while the units in Grays and Colchester, which attended 165 and 122 calls respectively in the same period, are expected to be phased out over the next 12 months.

The plan could potentially save money equivalent to the cost of filling 60 firefighter posts.

However, Alan Chinn-Shaw, brigade secretary for the Essex Fire Brigade Union, who said he has not seen the precise details of the county authorities’ plan, said areas of service may suffer.

He said: “You will lose the experience of specialist firefighters who manned the rescue tenders.

“They attended more difficult incidents with large vehicles and multiple vehicle crashes and have valuable experience.

“There is also the potential for a delay in service if not all of the equipment can be fitted onto a front line vehicle, because then another vehicle would have to bring that extra equipment.

“If that vehicle is another front line one there is then the potential for a reduction in service, as that particular vehicle and its crew will not be able to attend any other incidents.”