I still remember it. The flames, the smoke, my neighbor’s wife sobbing, tears streaming down her face. Fortunately this family got out safe, they had good insurance to pay for their losses, and close friends to help them recover. However, they lost several irreplaceable photos and difficult to replace documents. Richard, my neighbor, later lamented about the hassles he and Eleanor experienced getting official copies of birth certificates, a new drivers’ license, passports and the title to one of his vehicles. He stated that having one form of ID would have helped him immensely.
One of the saddest parts of Richards’ experience is that if he would have invested in a fireproof file cabinet, he probably would have had a safe storage place for those documents, photos and other digital media. I had the opportunity to learn from his oversight and chose to do so.
Fireproof storage doesn’t have to be inconvenient or expensive. Not everybody needs a $1,500, 4 drawer lateral file cabinet rated at 6 hours to protect their documents and small valuables. Here are a few economical and practical options that will fit most people’s needs and budget.
The most basic is the fireproof file box. This system is ideal for those who only have a handful of documents and perhaps a little jewelry that they want to protect. The file boxes that range in price from $50 up to $200 are rated up to a half hour at 1550 degrees F, which is sufficient in most house fires. The advantage of these is that they are easily stored and moved. Amazon is a good place to look for these, or if you prefer the retail shopping experience, you can pick one up at Office Depot or Office Max.
The next step up will be the 1 or 2 drawer file cabinet. These are a good choice and may be the answer for those that work from home and need to store several files, or if tax documents are extensive. Unfortunately, there are some low quality products made by some big names. Sentry in particular makes a 1 drawer fireproof cabinet with a poor slide mechanism for the drawer. However, Sentry’s 2 drawer 1 hour rated cabinet gets great reviews, including the smooth operation of the drawers. A 1 drawer model will set you back somewhere between $150 and $300 while 2 drawer models run $400 to $600.
FireKing is one of the leading names in fireproof document storage and produces UL listed, high quality products. The smallest cabinet they offer is a 2 drawer model. Those interested in enterprise level safe document storage should seriously consider the FireKing line.
While the vast majority of us will not personally experience our place of residence burning down, it is still a possibility. The cost of a fireproof file cabinet is a bargain compared to the loss of those documents that can help you get your life back in order after experiencing such a devastating event.