Wednesday, October 05, 2005

10 Tips for Buying a Fireproof Safe

10 Tips for Buying a Fireproof Safe

So you want to buy a fireproof safe? Great, now which one?

Fireproof safes have played a vital role in helping businesses survive disasters. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados and even hurricanes are often the cause of many fires that destroy businesses each year. With proper planning (referred to as business continuity or disaster recovery) you’ll get the exact fire safe that you need – at the best price possible. Product knowledge puts power into your hands as a consumer, but remember you usually get what you pay for.

For fireproof hard drives, click here.

Here are 10 Tips to help ensure you are getting the right protection, at the right price.

1. Know what you are storing
Most people don’t realize that there are two types of fire safes on the market today. Those for paper document storage (insurance papers, wills, checks, receipts, etc) and those for data storage or computer media. Once you’ve decided what you are storing, then you can determine the price range you will be looking at. Data Safes carry a UL 125 or UL 72 Rating, Document Storage Safes carry the UL 350 fire rating.
Remember – you can’t store computer data in a fire safe rated for paper – it will melt!

2. Fire Safes carry different fire ratings
For the storage of computer media, you must have a safe with a UL 125 or UL 72 fire rating. Without this rating, your computer media will melt in the event of a fire. This UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) rating means that the internal of the safe will not go above 125° F – the temperature at which computer media (CD’s, DVD’s, LTO tapes, DAT tapes, microfiche, film negatives, etc) melt.

3. UL Listed vs. UL Rated and Tested
There is a difference. Have you ever noticed a product that proclaimed, “tested to UL standards?” If you have, hopefully you didn’t purchase it. This is a sales technique that simply means that they submitted the product to UL for testing. It does not, however, mean that the product passed the test! If it actually passed the test it would say “UL Listed.” Buyer beware. Check out our online resource library for the details on UL Ratings.

4. Will your floor support the weight of the safe?
One thing to take into consideration is whether or not your floor has the ability to support the weight of the safe. If you are purchasing a large safe and it is going to be placed on an elevated floor it is a good idea to have an engineer do an inspection to make sure that the building can support the load.

5. How many hours of fire protection do you need? 1 hour? 2 hours? 3 hours?
Statistically speaking, the average fire burns at around 800°F for about 20 minutes. The UL test for both UL 125°F and UL 350°F ratings is performed for 1 hour at 1700°F. In the 130 year history of Schwab Corp they have never had a product fail, and they only manufacture 1 hour safes. Fire King, manufacturer of 1 hour, 2 hour, and 3 hour safes, in their 50 year history has also never had a product fail. So what does this mean? Unless you are in an area that is a substantial distance from your local fire department, history shows that a 1 hour fireproof safe provides more than adequate protection.

6. Do you need the extra security of Burglary or Impact ratings?
Keep in mind, the fireproof rating is just one of the UL Tests that these safes go through. Some are also tested, and UL Listed, to protect against theft and building collapse.

The burglary tests are very rigorous tests during which the UL technicians are allowed to use hand tools, picking tools, mechanical or portable electrical tools, grinding tools, etc. Higher burglary rated safes have the tests conducted for longer break in periods, or continuously attempting to breach the safe. RSC (Residential Security Container), B Rated and C Rated safes are tested for 5 minutes, TL-15 are tested for 15 minutes, and TL-30 are tested for 30 minutes. Visit our Burglary Rating Resource Section.
Safes can also be submitted to an Impact Test. This test is designed to replicate a 3 story building collapse. Immediately after going through the fireproof test, within 2 minutes of being heated to 1700°F, the safe is raised to a height of 30ft and is dropped onto a pile of bricks on a concrete base. If the safe remains closed and does not spill its contents it has passed the UL Impact test.

7. Interior Accessory Options – Which do you need?
Generally speaking, all safes are priced with empty interiors. That is due to the fact that everyone has a different storage need. From fixed shelves to roll out multi-media drawers, there is an interior accessory designed to accommodate virtually every kind of media, document, or valuable.

8. Do you require high security locks?
Combination locks are the general standard when it comes to safes, but there are a number of options out there if you require additional security. Deciding which one is right for you will depend on the level of security you are looking to attain. Some available options include:
• Group 2 Combination Lock (standard)
• Group 1R Combination Lock (manipulation proof)
• Group 2 Combination Lock with Key Locking Dial
• Key Locking Handle
• Digital Combination Lock

Each high security lock has it’s Pros and Cons – know your options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Click here for the Schwab Corp Fireproof Safe Lock Options

9. Will you need a specialized delivery service?
All safes prices include free dock to dock delivery, but what does this mean? This means that the safe will be delivered to your loading dock. The drivers only job is to back the truck up to the dock, it is the customers responsibility to remove the safe from the truck and place it in its desired location. Inside delivery service is always an option, and generally advised considering the fact that some safes weigh over 2,000 lbs., but there will be some questions that need to be addressed first, including:
• Do you have a loading dock?
• Are there any stair steps involved?
• Is there a freight elevator?
• Do you require floor protection?
• What are the doorway dimensions?

Asking these questions first allows us to give a more accurate delivery quote. If the questions are not answered correctly and there is a discrepancy when the inside delivery company arrives additional charges may apply.

10. What does UL 125 or UL 350 actually mean?
These are the two tests that UL has to determine fireproof capability. The UL 125 test is for media, such as computer discs, microfilm, and videotapes and means that during the 1 hour 1700°F test the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125°F. Media begins to melt at 140°F. Similarly, the UL 350 test, rated for the storage of paper documents which begin to char at 400°F, assures that the internal temperature will not exceed 350°F.

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