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John McNarrey. The fireman is the favorite popular hero of peace. The records of fire departments in large cities are brightened by deeds of splendid courage and devotion to duty, and firemen are men proved in fire literally and figuratively. Chief John McNarrey of the Kansas City, Kansas, fire department is a fine example of the best in this service. He had been almost continuously connected with the local department for twenty-four years. When he began with the department it had only three fire stations or houses and at the present time as chief he had direction of the men and the equipment in nine stations, and had a roll of 114 men in the department.
He entered the service in 1893 as a hose man, and by fidelity to duty and efficiency in time of action had worked his way to the chief responsibilities of the department. He was appointed assistant chief under Mayor Gilbert, filled the office two years, and during the succeeding administration went back into the ranks. He became chief of the department under the administration of Mayor George Gray, and had filled the office continuously since 1907.
Chief McNarrey was born near Belfast, Ireland, May 19, 1868, and is of Scotch parentage. His people were Scotch Presbyterians and his parents were John and Margaret (Reid) McNarrey, natives of Scotland. His father was a tailor, and lived and died in Ireland. His mother is still living in Ireland.
John McNarrey was one of eight children. He attended school in Ireland, but when twelve years of age went to Scotland to live with a distant relative. He remained there four years, working during the day in iron furnaces. He then went to an uncle in England, where he spent one year, and in 1886 he set out alone for America. Arriving in this country he located in Kansas City, Kansas, where he spent a brief time with the Fowler Packing Company. The prospect of the establishment of an iron mill in the far Northwest led him out to Seattle, Washington, and after the iron mill proposition failed to materialize, he went to work for the Seattle, Puget Sound & Alaska Steamship Company, spending a year and a half with them in the building of docks and other work. He was also for a time in the employ of the municipal government of Seattle.
In 1890 he returned to Kansas City, Kansas, and for another two years was with the Fowler Packing Company. From that work he entered the fire department, where his big service had been rendered. He is one of Kansas’ ablest fire fighters, and had shown both individual efficiency and the ability of the executive and the disciplinarian. He was instrumental in securing the organization in January, 1917, of the Kansas State Firemen’s Association and is one of its board of directors. Mr. McNarrey is a republican in politics and through his position and as a private citizen had done all in his power to promote the welfare of his home community. He is affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, is a Scottish Rite Thirty-second Degree Mason, an order in which his father was a member for fifty-two years, belongs to Abdallah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and is also an Elk and a member of various other fraternities. His wife is active in the Eastern Star. Mr. McNarrey is true to the faith of his ancestors and is active in the local Presbyterian Church. He was married February 11, 1902, to Miss Hannah Carruthers, who was born and reared in England but is of Scotch and English descent. They have one daughter, Emily Margaret, now attending school.