Firefighter Harold U. Davenport, 34, lost his life on Sunday, December 18, 1955 just before 5:00 p.m. after being dispatched by the Las Vegas Police Department for a cat stuck on top of a utility pole behind the residence at 2117 South 15th Street (between St. Louis and Sahara).
Davenport arrived on scene with a ladder truck along with firefighter Robert Dietz who stood at the base of the ladder as Davenport ascended the ladder to get the cat that had been stuck on the pole for over two days. As Davenport lifted the cat from the cross arm of the pole, he dropped the cat. In the process the cat tried to scratch him and he threw his arm back, touching a live power line in the process. Davenport unconscious was not engaged with the wire, but was across the cross arm at the top of the pole.
Dietz then radioed for the rescue unit along with an ambulance. Firefighters Mike Dayton and Jerry Gillespie removed Davenport from the pole and loaded him into the ambulance. He was transported to the Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced. Davenport died of severe burns to his arm, leg and face along with cardiac arrest.
His wife Mary and daughter, 18 month old Kathy survived him along with a stepson James and daughter Sharon who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Services for Davenport were held on Thursday, December 22, 1955 at 2:00 p.m. at the LDS Chapel at 8th Street and Linden Street. Bunker Brothers Mortuary coordinated the funeral arrangements.
According to Las Vegas Fire Chief Elmer C. Gates, this was the first line of duty death on the Las Vegas Fire Department.
Davenport lived in a home he constructed himself in Paradise Valley. He and his wife Mary moved into the house ten years earlier on Mother’s Day. The Davenports were married for ten years. Previous to being a firefighter, Davenport worked as a special officer patrolling the downtown area and was also employed by Bonanza airlines.