A group of youngsters spotted on the River Trent in a dinghy last night sparked a frantic two hour search after they disappeared from view.
"Youngsters are attracted to water, especially when the weather is warm but they are putting themselves at great risk."
Station Manager, Jim Bywater
The targeted response vehicle (TRV) team from Burton were out carrying out a routine patrol when a member of the public approached them saying they had seen a group of four children in a dinghy on the River Trent off Stapenhill Road, Burton.
The member of the public wasn’t sure if the youngsters were in danger and thought they may have been arguing.
Concerned for the children’s safety, the TRV crew went to see if they were ok however they could not see any sign of them and so radioed it in as an incident to fire control.
The Police were also alerted to the incident and the Police helicopter was sent to the scene to use thermal imaging cameras to search the water from the air.
Station Manager, Jim Bywater said: "We sent a fire engine from Burton, a fire engine from Tamworth and the water rescue unit to the scene to begin a search for the youngsters.
"Around 13 firefighters and two officers were in attendance from around 9pm until just after 11pm, along with a number of police resources.
"Incidents of this nature involving young people and water are becoming more frequent and children need to realise that water can be very dangerous. Just a few weeks ago a teenager sadly lost his life after falling into deep water at a quarry in South Staffordshire; he had been playing with friends at the time.
"Youngsters are attracted to water, especially when the weather is warm but they are putting themselves at great risk. There are many hidden dangers beneath the water such as rocks, weeds and rubbish plus the water is often a lot colder than people think which will result in even the strongest swimmers getting into difficulty and distress. In addition, there are often under currents which cannot be seen from the surface of the water.
"We urge people to only ever swim at properly supervised sites, such as swimming pools and if you are a non-swimmer please keep a suitable distance away from water at all times."
Inspector Tyrone Kerr, of East Staffordshire Local Policing Team, said: "A member of the public came forward during the search and informed police officers that they thought they’d seen the youngsters leaving the river with the dinghy.
"We then carried out further enquiries and managed to locate three of the four boys safe at a house in Burton. The father of one of the boys also confirmed he had since seen the fourth boy and the group admitted it had been them on the river.
"We would like to thank members of the public for being so vigilant and are thankful that on this occasion the youngsters involved are ok.
"I’d also like to take this opportunity to issue a timely reminder to parents – please educate your children about the grave dangers of playing near or on water."