Jack Harrison, Deputy Chief
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire
Hired: 06/18/1942
Retired Passing Member: 12/02/2019
Years In Service: 43

Jack H. Harrison    12/2/2019

The angels danced on July 22, 1920, the day Jack H. Harrison was born. He was the youngest brother of siblings Charlie and Louise and the son of Mattie and Raymond of Chicago, Illinois. He was adopted at a young age by Janie and James Harrison of Pittsburgh, PA. He was baptized at Rodman Street Missionary Church and later became a member of White Lily Baptist Church in Chartiers City. He attended Lincoln Elementary School where in the second grade, he met the love of his life and future bride, Alcia Anderson, who happened to be his next door neighbor. Jack attended Westinghouse High School where he excelled in track and field events before graduating in 1939. Jack worked at various jobs until he finally pursued his dream of becoming a firefighter in 1942. In 1944, Jack enlisted in the US Navy where he worked on the “crash crew” as an aviation boatswain and earned the Victory Medal. In 1946, he returned to the Fire Department and on September 4, 1947, Jack and Alcia were wed and this happy couple was blessed with two beautiful children- Darryl and Rhonda. Loving husband, doting father, a true family man, Jack’s extended family was the fire department. Jack earned the rank of Captain in 1955; he worked his way up to Battalion Chief in 1963 and in 1971, he was promoted to Deputy Fire Chief-the first African American to hold this position. He took several management courses at Carnegie Mellon University to ensure those in his charge were treated fairly. Prior to his retirement in 1985, he served briefly as Acting Fire Chief for the City of Pittsburgh. He was a man who believed in equality and was proud to swear in the city’s first female firefighter. Upon his retirement, the Chief immediately joined and became a member of the Veteran’s Firefighters Association. Chief Jack Harrison was a loving, considerate man and generous to a fault; a free spirit with a sharp mind and wry sense of humor, he could discuss politics for days and had solutions for all the country’s problems. He especially loved his scanner so he could continue to fight fires from his home. He was a great storyteller and loved to reminisce about the good old days with veteran and current firefighter friends.  God Bless you, Chief on a life well lived.