Ex-school superintendent dies in fall from ladder

Reprinted with permission from the Times Union

TROY – A former city school superintendent and state Senate candidate died on Friday, February 20, after a fall at home on Thursday afternoon.

Brian F. Howard, 65, was home alone when he climbed an extension ladder to clear snow from the roof of his two-story townhouse at 9 Meridian Court, fire officials said.

His wife, Janet Howard, returned home from running errands to find her husband prone in the driveway with a severe head injury, officials said. The ladder and a shovel were also lying on the ground.

“You should not do something like that alone,” said city fire Chief Thomas Garrett. “We don’t know exactly how he fell, and we will likely never know.”

He said officials also do not know how long Mr. Howard was on the ground after the fall.

It was very windy at the time Mr. Howard was working on Thursday afternoon.

A longtime Capital Region educator, he retired as Queensbury school district superintendent and was for two years acting superintendent of Troy City School District, where he mentored his successor, John Carmello. Before that, Mr. Howard was acting superintendent of Berlin Central School District. He was assistant superintendent for the Chatham Central School District and a principal at Chatham High School.

In 2014, he was the Democratic candidate in the 43rd Senate District race against incumbent Republican Kathleen Marchione of Halfmoon, who was re-elected.

Rodney G. Wiltshire Jr., president of the Troy City Council, called Mr. Howard an exemplary educator who “put his considerable energy and intellect toward a run for state Senate.”

“Brian was a great person, and I always enjoyed our conversations,” Mr. Wiltshire said. “He had many great concepts and approaches to solving problems which I appreciated learning from him.”

Every year, workers and homeowners are killed or seriously injured while removing snow or ice from roofs, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

With snow this winter piling up on roofs, OSHA suggests clearing it from the ground with an extendable roof snow rake or hiring a contractor.

OSHA has posted a list of safety measures to prevent accidents when removing snow from roofs. These include:

Do not use a shovel or roof rake while standing on a ladder or a step ladder.

Clean snow from shoes or boots before mounting a ladder.

Extend the ladder three feet above the roof edge. If that’s not possible, use ladder rail extensions and secure the ladder to prevent it from slipping or tipping.

Do not prop the ladder against ice dams that form along some roof eaves.

If using an A-frame step ladder, do not stand on the top two steps, which can make the ladder unstable.

Keep both feet and at least one hand on the ladder.

To contact reporter Bob Gardinier email

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