GRIMES, Iowa — Tuesday, May 4 was International Firefighters’ Day, and the Dallas Center-Grimes High School community took the opportunity to honor head custodian and Perry firefighter Joel Eiteman.
Eiteman was one of five members of the Perry Volunteer Fire Department who rescued a man from a burning house April 20, 2020. Eiteman and his four fellow firefighters — Israel Baltazar, Brian Eiteman, Bobby Harlan and Andy Modlin — were honored by the Iowa Department of Public Safety with the 2020 Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor for heroism in the line of duty.
“Joel is a true hero,” said Dallas Center-Grimes High School Principal Scott Blum, who arranged the surprise ceremony. “We are honored to have you here with us as a member of the Mustang community.”
Along with more than 600 students, staff and faculty of DCGHS, members of the Perry Volunteer Fire Department and Johnston-Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department were on hand to congratulate Eiteman, a 28-year veteran of the Perry department.
The fire at 924 12h St. in Perry totally destroyed the residence. It was Eiteman who located the 64-year-old victim inside the fully engulfed house, determined he was alive but unconscious and assisted in carrying him out of harm’s way. It was the first time in the history of Perry that a person has been saved from inside a burning building, according to fire department historian Brian Eiteman.
COVID-19 restrictions caused the annual Sullivan Brothers ceremony to be temporarily postponed, so Dallas Center-Grimes High School Principal Scott Blum’s all-school rally Tuesday morning was the first public recognition of the bravery of Joel Eiteman and the rest of the Perry crew.