Fireproof Safe or Fireproof Data Safe?

Fireproof safes can be a difficult area to understand. There are so many different types and specifications that the choice can be bewildering. This guide provides some clear and insightful guidance on some of the key questions to ask and product differences to be aware of.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is what you are wanting to put in the safe. Ask yourself this question – do you want the safe for fireproof document storage or for fireproof data storage?

Generally, in an office environment, these are the two main types of content for a fireproof safe. A company may wish to store important company paper documents or they may wish to store a digital back up of their computer records. In either case, investing in a fireproof safe is an extremely wise business decision and can potentially allow your business to be up and running very quickly after a fire.

However, the type of fireproof safe required will differ. Paper will ignite at around 177 degrees Celsius whereas some computer data will ignite at 52 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it is quite clear that a different level of fire resistant protection is needed for these differing types of company record.

So, if you are interested in fireproof data storage you may want to look at the Phoenix Datacare range which is tested to Swedish NT Fire 017 standard and is specifically designed for computer backup tapes or digital media. Alternatively, a similar product for fireproof document storage would be the Phoenix Titan range, which is tested to the Swedish NT Fire 017 for paper so as to give 60 minutes of fire resistance to protect paper documents.

What is meant by fire resistance?

When we talk about fire resistance, we are talking about how long the safe’s construction will resist fire and prevent the inside contents reaching the temperatures mentioned above. Testing is done under controlled conditions and the Swedish NT Fire test mentioned above requires the safe to be heated to a minimum of 945 degrees Celsius. The average temperature of a fire will differ markedly but a figure of around 585 degrees Celsius is widely cited. So, you will see how rigorous the testing is.

Then, quite simply, based on this testing the safe is given a time for which it is fire resistant under those conditions; that time is the fire resistance that is mentioned on our product pages.

Do you need a fireproof and waterproof safe?

Clearly, a good quality fireproof safe is purchased as an insurance policy. We hope that a fire never occurs and that it will never be required to demonstrate its fire resistance but, unfortunately, the worst does sometimes happen.

If there is a fire, what will the fire brigade do to try and extinguish the fire? In all probability, it is likely to involve a lot of water… Therefore, a key thing to think about is whether you want your fireproof safe to also be water resistant. It is all well and good having a fireproof safe doing its job against the fire only for it to be frustrated in its efforts at preserving crucial documentation by water getting in and destroying the contents.

The Phoenix Datacare range mentioned earlier offers water resistance. Another safe to consider if water resistance is crucial to you would be one of our best sellers being the Burton Compact range of fireproof data safes; these are stated by the manufacturer to be waterproof.

Fireproof Safes

What type of lock do you want?

All safes, not just fireproof safes, can come with a broad and potentially confusing range of locking options. The most simple choice is between either a traditional key lock or an electronic lock, such as with this fire resistant Chubbsafes Primus safe.

However, increasingly, safe manufacturers are introducing more and more technological advancements to the locking systems that they offer. For instance, on the Phoenix Firefighter range it is possible to request a biometric fingerprint lock.

So, when choosing a fireproof safe, you should spend some time thinking about the different locking options and focus on how you would wish to access the safe and what levels of security your business requires.

We are experts in fireproof safes

This guide is intended to point you in the right direction in the central question of what exactly are fireproof safes and what do you need to think about when buying one.

There will undoubtedly be more questions or more specific, technical points that you are unsure on. In that case, call our expert team on 01724 281044/277479. At Safety Storage Centre, we sell fireproof safes from all of the leading brands and we back up this range with excellent product knowledge and customer service.

Using flammable liquids? Your storage cabinet is key.

When working with flammable liquids – regardless of the facility – it is vitally important to have safety as your paramount concern. Although this may seem logical in principal, it isn’t something that is always adhered to – a good majority of fires in industrial environments are caused because the appropriate steps haven’t been taken to store flammable liquids safely.

Many may avoid the special flammable cabinets – designed to house the liquids in a safe manner – purely because of their cost.

Even though there is a cost involved, it is important not to try and cut corners with a cheaper version; this kind of behaviour is not recommended when it comes down to safety measures.

Flammable cabinets protect liquids in two crucial ways, the first ensures that any leakages are prevented from spreading outside the cabinet, and the second prevents the liquids from setting alight if a fire does happen to occur.

While in the short term, buying a flammable cabinet involves investment, in the long term it can be ensured that the hazardous risk is minimised significantly.

Fire Safety Cabinets

Over the weekend the element in the main oven of my cooker gave up the ghost. We had a logistical challenge trying to cook the full monty Sunday roast dinner using just the small oven and hob but happily all went well.

I ordered the replacement part from espares a great site that I have used before. They often have cheaper OEM versions and the site includes handy videos showing how to fit common parts.

When I checked the part I found the element pumped out 2500watts and it occurred to me that the cooker was effectively a fireproof cabinet in reverse. Of course the maximum temperature inside is only around 240 deg C way below the 700-1000 degrees generated in a fire but given that the heat is retained for hours on end without raising the exterior skin to dangerous levels it is still pretty impressive although not in the same league as our fireproof flammables storage cabinets.

When choosing a cabinet for storage of flammable substances it’s easy to be confused by the range on offer and particularly what Fireproof actually means. There are three basic cabinet types – Fire Resistant, Flameproof and Fireproof. So what’s the difference?

Fire resistant cabinets are generally compliant with British Standard BS 476. This standard is not based on the fire integrity of the whole cabinet but defines the fire resistant qualities of the materials used in its construction. A fire resistant cabinet to BS470 will be made of materials that will retain their integrity for 30 mins in your average fire at a nominal 750 deg C. Which in plain speak means the materials will not melt or warp. COSHH compliant cabinets for the storage and segregation of hazardous goods – with the exception of flammables – fall into this category but the single skin construction does not prevent the build-up of heat inside the cabinet for any length of time. They are neither guaranteed flameproof or fireproof.

Flame Proof cabinets, often termed flammable(s) storage cabinets, intended specifically for the storage of flammable substances have to comply with the DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002) that specifies design features intended to segregate flammable substances from accidental exposure to flames from work activity or accidental fire and to prevent environmental pollution. The joints between the sides, top and bottom of flammables safety cabinets and bins should be seam welded or at least free from openings or gaps, and should be close rebated against the frame such that there is overlap between the frame and lids /doors in their closed position. In addition flammables storage cabinets must have a liquid tight sump with a volume at least 110% of the largest stored container. Tray like spill shelves are also incorporated. The supports and fastenings must be of a material with a melting point greater than 750 deg C. Again these are more often single skin cabinets that are Fire Resistant and Flameproof but not Fireproof.

Fireproof cabinets not only segregate highly flammable substances (HFS’s) as required by COSHH and DSEAR they also protect the contents from the intense heat of a fire for a defined period. BS EN14470-1 is the applicable standard. The multi skinned and insulated construction prevents the interior cabinet temperature from rising above 180 deg C for a set period defined by the fire rating of the cabinet – i.e. from 15 to 90 minutes. These cabinets also have automatic heat activated self closing safety doors and air ventilation /extraction and are commonly used in laboratories and hazardous process industries to safeguard workers and reduce valuable asset losses in the event of fire. The sophisticated fireproof qualities of BS EN14470-1 cabinets allow users to exceed the 50 litres maximum volume of HFS’s recommended for storage in any workroom.