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How many “Egress” signs have you seen lately? Egress is a curious artifact of rule writing that refers to an entire exit system from a building: the stairs, the corridors, and evacuation routes outside the building. “Exits” are a means of egress, but most of us just look for the familiar “Exit” sign when we need a way to get out of a building in a hurry and we do not have time to think about the exit system.

Exits were not always as important as they are today. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in a downtown Manhattan garment factory killed 146 workers because exits were not clearly marked and most doors were bolted shut to keep the workers from leaving.

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