Finding the Perfect Fire Resistant Safe

Today we have many options available to protect your documents or computer records. Whether it is for the home or business there are safes of all sizes that can keep your documents safe from fire. These safes only provide a limited time period of safety though.

Fire safes keep the interior of the safe at less than 350 degrees for a stated period of time. This allows the contents to remain secure from the actual flames of the fire. Most manufacturers of fire safes will not call them "fireproof" but use "fire resistant" instead. In order for a safe to successfully resist heat, the special composite material sandwiched between the outer and inner metal walls gives off moisture. This creates steam inside of the safe. The steam will never go any higher than 350 degrees fahrenheit. The manufacturer has to insure that the "steam" created by the composite fire-retardant material will be released from the safe. So safes are engineered not to be air tight. They must release the steam created inside while the fire is red-hot outside.

Check the label found on all fire safes to determine the length of time tested and that the safe will maintain a temperature of 350 degrees fahrenheit or less during that time. There are safes available that can withstand flames for 1 hour and up to 3 hours. When purchasing a fire safe, take into account how far you are from the fire department to determine how much protection you will need. The safe will still protect your paper documents, however, when the fire retardant, composite material runs out of moisture (usually after the 1 hour or 3 hours that it is rated for), the safe will no longer resist the blaze.

One of the alternatives is the mixed media file cabinet which is the preferred choice for both paper and computer record safety. These cabinets come in 2-4 drawer models, and look like regular file cabinets. You can choose to have computer media protection drawers for DVDs or fire rated drawers for paper records, or both. The paper record storage drawers rated by UL to be Class 350, indicating that temperatures stay below 350 ° F when exterior temperatures are reaching 1700 ° F. During the same 1700 ° F test, media drawers were UL classified to maintain an internal temperature below 125 ° F without going over the 80 percent humidity level. This tight standard is required to protect computer media like hard drives and DVDs. The file cabinet is engineered to protect against magnetic interference as well.

Another, less expensive option are the fire and impact file cabinets that are for paper records only. They can have 2 or 4 drawers and are about 1/2 the price of the models mentioned above, and still provide the 350 degree protection needed for paper files.

Fire & burglar safes are another much smaller option and provide both fire and burglary protection. They are usually 20 "to 30" square, with the interior being even smaller. They come with UL 350 safety for 1 to 1.5 hours. There are generally 2 "of concrete between the steel inner & outer walls which provides the needed burglary and flame safety.