A home engulfed in flames doesn't usually give people much to celebrate about. But a group of firefighters from Gateway say it's what marks the start of an exciting new future for their growing town.
"We've got eight brand new firefighters that are just completing their firefighter one certification," said David Anderson, Chief of the Gateway Fire District.
Saturday afternoon, members of the Lands End Fire Protection District and members of the Gateway Fire District teamed up with instructors from Grand Junction for live fire training in Whitewater.
"It's important to get right in there," said Anderson. "The real active part of it."
And got right in there they did. Firefighters ran into a burning building throughout the afternoon, each time learning about a new situation or practicing a new technique.
"We're putting them on their hands and knees, crawling in to get underneath that smoke to watch and see how the fire builds up," said Anderson.
Crews learned how to ventilate a room that was burning, how to move around in 700 degree temperatures, and how to fight a fire from the outside.
"They're just coming out amazed at how black it gets, how hot it gets," said Anderson. "It's a whole new experience and a new environment for them."
A new experience Gateway Fire Officials say is not only beneficial for the firefighters, but for the town as well. With 200 new homes expected over the next five years, they say the current system of calling in Lands End firefighters from 50 minutes away just won't cut it.
"Historically, Gateway has always just been able to do brush fires," said Anderson. "Now with these new firefighters going through training, we'll actually be able to do structure fires."
This was the first time the Gateway Fire District was ever able to give its firefighters structure fire training.