Simple, yet effective: Rio Rancho Middle School drama teacher Christina Daly shows how easy, and quickly, a fire hose sleeve can be in place.
(Gary Herron/ Rio Rancho Observer)

Is there anything better than a good idea, especially if it’s an idea that results in an inexpensive way to save lives?

That’s what recently happened in Rio Rancho, thanks to firefighter Aaron McDevitt having time to peruse Firehouse magazine.

In there, the Rio Rancho High School Class of 2000 graduate said he saw an Arizona fire department had found a way to “dispose” of its out-of-service fire hoses: They can be quickly slipped over what McDevitt calls “scissors” hinges on the doors to classrooms, gyms, libraries, etc., to keep intruders from getting inside.

In other words, a possible active shooter would become frustrated at not being able to access a room full of targets, and every second’s delay in mayhem gives first responders time to arrive on scene.

Rio Rancho Middle School, the largest — 1,250 students — of the district’s four middle schools, used the hoses effectively in a lockdown at the campus on Sept. 27.

All went well, surmised Principal Lynda Kitts, happy to see that students have been taught how to slip the short hoses onto the hinges for their safety, in the event of multiple doors, such as in the gymnasium, or if the teacher is out of the room at the time.

“This is so simple and effective,” Kitts said, happy with the staff’s response to that recent lockdown, which began when a student dialed 911.

These “simple and effective” safety sleeves were created using out-of-service fire hoses from the Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department and other sources. By state law, the hoses are tested annually to assure that they can be deployed safely when a fire occurs, and when rolls of hose get damaged or old, they are unable to hold the pressure, so they are decertified and removed from service.

Prior to McDevitt’s bright idea, RRFD had to find ways to dispose of the old hose, but now has created a new life for an item that was discarded before. The hoses are in 50-foot sections and he can get about 46-48 ten-inch-long safety sleeves from each one.

McDevitt sought and got approval from his boss, Richard Doty, as well as the city’s fire chief, Paul Bearce, and, after buying a tool to cut the hose, was off and running.

“We applaud firefighter McDevitt’s creative approach to helping keep our school kids safe,” lauded Bearce. “Aaron took a very simple idea from another department and through his dedication and passion for this project, he saw it through to the end. Aaron worked closely with the Rio Rancho Public Schools’ safety staff to develop a great partnership. Safety sleeves are simple and effective.

“Firefighter McDevitt has a big heart — he often tells me that he is just a big kid at heart,” Bearce added. “Aaron immerses himself in projects that involve kids. He is one of the more popular presenters of fire prevention programs at schools and now he has found another way to fuel his passion for helping kids.”

RRFR Deputy Chief Jimmy DeFillippo was also impressed.

“Aaron is one of our school educators for fire safety and has become very popular amongst the kids and is frequently requested to do fire safety talks,” DeFillippo said. “Aaron’s passion for the safety of children in this community is immeasurable he truly does care. Recently, Aaron has become a member of the ‘response to violent incidents’ training cadre, where he learned different tactics for responders in these types of events and, with this new-found information, Aaron has found yet another way to keep our community’s children safe.”

Speaking of children, McDevitt was busy last week presenting fire safety to about 4,000 RRPS elementary students.

Maybe he’ll find a little Aaron in one of the classrooms. He and his wife of eight years, Jessica, have two kids, ages 3 and 6.

After all, McDevitt was born and raised here in the City of Vision, has been with RRFR since 2005, and said he “always wanted to be a fireman.

“I enjoyed helping people,” he said.

To date, there have been enough lengths of hose to serve all the doors in the district’s high schools and middle schools; the elementary schools will be served following the next scheduled hose tests, coming in November.