Official investigation has intensified regarding ExitCo, the world’s leading manufacturer of exit signs, in the aftermath of a recent fire at a major ExitCo production center in Phoenix, Arizona, which reportedly claimed the lives of 10 workers who were unable to locate the factory’s exit due to the abundance of exit signs inside the facility.
The devastating blaze has ignited concerns over the future of the exit sign industry after this debilitating blow for ExitCo, once described as “too big to fail” and “the shining light in the dark movie theater of the world.”
The fire reportedly began at a neighboring fire alarm factory, while most workers at the exit sign factory believed it to be a false alarm. No evacuation was ordered until many employees began to suspect that the situation was more serious than they initially thought. One survivor recounted, “I didn’t even know that there was an actual fire until I noticed third-degree burns appearing all over my body.” The manufacturing plant’s architecture, described by ExitCo as the “pinnacle of optimal exit sign feng shui,” reportedly contributed to the alarmingly rapid spread of the fire through the facility. Particularly exacerbating the situation were features such as the ventilation system, which is “designed to make the workspace feel just like Santa Ana,” and the “employee bonfire sites” in important corridors.
According to survivor accounts, the evacuating workers were unable to reliably navigate the burning building due to confusion over which exit signs they needed to pay attention to. A significant number of the casualties have been blamed on exit signs leading workers into dead-ends, roof cave-ins, or burning piles of more exit signs. One worker described the experience as “like that thing where you have auditory hallucination, but the voices are exit signs.”
The fire is the latest in a string of disasters at ExitCo factories around the world. The series of conflagrations has raised a multitude of concerns over the direction of the exit sign industry, and, to a much smaller extent, the safety of exit sign laborers.
“Yes, the massive casualties are quite tragic, but that’s not the crisis at hand,” said ExitCo CEO Larawald “Larry” Exit. “The real tragedy here is the impact on the global exit sign trade. We’re the biggest producers in the industry, and half of our wares have gone up in smoke. It’s simple supply and demand, people! Our supply goes down, what happens next? Demand tanks, synergy implodes, and it takes global gross exit sign product and exit-sign efficacy equality with it! The world revolves around exit signs. The Sun? A giant exit sign. Literally nothing can exist without exit signs! You can’t spell ‘exist’ without most of the letters in ‘exit sign!’”
In addition to distress over the state of the industry, ExitCo is also facing increased scrutiny from labor organizations. The president of the National Exit Sign Professionals Union, Leigh Bohr, delivered a particularly scathing denouncement of the company, outlining in great detail how the company acted “not good” and urging the company to “do things that are not bad.” In addition to these criticisms, Bohr also made emphatic demands to “raise my salary this year by 400 percent so I can make them do good this time.” Bohr could not be reached for further comment as he reportedly spent the rest of the press conference Snapchatting with the VP of ExitCo.
While government legislative bodies have not yet reacted to the emerging crisis, the Occupational Safety and Health Association has already taken action. In an official statement, OSHA asserted that “exit signs are the root of this tragedy” and has ordered ExitCo to remove all exit signs from their facilities.