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Fireproof file cabinet recommendations/thoughts (???)...

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  • Fireproof file cabinet recommendations/thoughts (???)...

    This is a first-time post/message for me - so I'll try to make it concise...

    I've just finished reading thru this GTD book. One thing I'd like to do soon is improve my file cabinet/reference system - in my office here at work AND at home.

    For mini-background, I store a LOT of software licensing/etc info at work (among other things), so that's my main motivation for at work. At home, I have various tax documents/info, car title/insurance policies/financial records/etc, that I'd like to 'better protect" with a fireproof file cabinet.

    Additionally, not to get too overly weird, but I also feel (after reading the GTD book especially), there might (??) be something to be said for some subconscious, psychological plus for investing in a fireproof file cabinet - since I'd psychologically feel that anything I put in there would be "really" secure. And once it was in there, I could "really" feel relaxed that my reference "system" was 'especially' solid and wouldn't be going anywhere.

    That having been said (!), for those who may not be very familiar with fireproof file cabinets - they are VERY HEAVY. In the range of 500 to 600 pounds heavy for 4 drawer vertical models.

    I currently have one "small" 2 drawer Sentry fireproof cabinet (model 6000) that I've been using for 5 to 7 years. (I'll try to include a link to it here - I hope that's ok to do in this forum!).

    This Sentry model has worked well/ok - but like David Allen accurately predicted/noted in this GTD book when talking about file cabinets - it's already packed to the gills and I do hesitate to even think of putting anything else in it - since there's no room left.

    Thus, that's why I'm seriously considering shelling out the bucks for a new, "spacious", 4-drawer one with extra long drawers (in the range of 26" to 31" long drawers for vertical file cabinet models). By the way, these babies cost approximately at least $1,200 to $1,600 from what I've been able to price so far (keep in mind, this cost in addition to the extra heavy weight mentioned above).

    I had basically narrowed it down to the following two brands/names (again, I hope it's ok to include these below names/links! If the forum moderator needs to remove them- then obviously that's ok and sorry about that!!):

    1) Phoenix

    2) FireKing

    I went yesterday and looked at showroom models for each of these two. Each one seemed to have a drawback (at least in my mind).

    * The Phoenix is NOT rated for the 30 foot drop test. In other words, if there was a fire and it fell thru some floors, it was not officially "certified" to withstand a drop test of that distance.

    * The FireKing is 30 foot drop test certified (at least certain models); however, as the very helpful salesperson pointed out - the FireKing file cabinets have an "unfinished" interior surface of this clay-like/plaster-like, heat resistance substance. He showed how this plaster/clay-like material tends to flake off in small powder like dust. He indicated that some people may not mind, but he had noticed that over time, this fine dust stuff can get into files, on the outside of the cabinet, etc. [By the way, the Phoenix had finished metal-like interior surfaces.]

    There was another brand they offered (but did not have a showroom model for me to inspect/review):

    3) Schwab - which seems to have a somewhat unique offering ("Trident" series) which offers models that have the fire-rating protection and the 30 foot drop test - and a semi-waterproof feature (for, say a sprinkler system going off) - but I have not been able to look at one of these in person yet.

    Okay, I'll be the first to admit that this might be overkill. I have been thinking of just getting another Sentry cabinet (or two) for much less than the cost of one of these big-dog, heavy 4 drawer cabinets. Indeed, the Sentry model (at least the one I currently have) has a "finished"/plastic sealed interior. So, there is no "dust" issue with it. So, I may in fact, get another one or two of these - but that certainly is not very space efficient as these are NOT safely stackable/etc.

    However, I figure if I shelled out the bucks now on a heavy 4-drawer one, it would be a long-term (i.e. lifetime!) investment. [Even though, they would be a total killer/pain to move!!] Note: I'm still considering one for the office and one for home. So, please keep in mind that many of the considerations I'm mentioning may or may not necessarily apply to both environments!

    Having gone thru all of the above - does anyone have any experience or recommendations on fireproof file cabinets?

    I am going to try to see if I can get a look at one of these Schwab file cabinets someplace around here - namely to see if it might have this interior "dust" issue - and, frankly, to see if I can get a feel for the overall construction - such as how smoothly/securely the drawers operate/etc.

    Again, in summary, any thoughts/input/recommendations/tips/etc on fireproof file cabinets? Any such feedback would be greatly appreciated... thanks! (and sorry this got so long!)

  • #2
    I have no suggestions about the business aspect, but if the issue at home is just overcrowding, you might see if some of the material can be stored in a safe deposit box.

    I would want a large one unless I was fairly confident I wouldn't be moving for a long time.


    • #3
      Something to keep in mind: most fireproof cabinets are fire safe for paper, but *not* for computer media. Magnetic and optical media both have much lower temperature tolerances than paper, but the standard rating system is based on paper's characteristics. Before plunking down your money, make absolutely certain you understand what the cabinet will or will not protect.

      As I discovered when I investigated a similar purchase, you sometimes have to really dig to get this level of information from the vendor. My advice would be to assume that a cabinet is *not* media safe unless it explicitly claims that it is.



      • #4
        ActionGirl & kewms/Katherine...

        Thanks for the feedback!

        Just to somewhat better clarify - most of the "software" things I was mainly referring to were primarily simple paper-type things - such as copies of older Purchase Orders and/or Invoices - and various license/serial number certificates/letters/etc.

        Thoughhhhhhhhh, I did see some things so far in my research more specifically related to protecting certain types of media - floppies, CDs, tapes, etc. In fact, I discovered a couple of relatively small, stand-alone things that may do that for a relatively small cost ($100 to $350 or so)- but they are fairly small in the number of things you can put in there to protect - such as only about 40 to 80 CDs maximum (in jewel cases though).

        But for the most part - various paper type things are what I'm mainly interested in storing in the file cabinet(s). And again - for home - various tax/financial documents - as well as other notes/reference material... though, the idea of putting some of these more sensitive items in a safe deposit box is worth considering!

        If nothing else, kewms/Katherine has reminded me that a certain level of persistence/digging will probably be needed for me to get down to the info/details/nitty-gritty I'm interested in finding!

        If I'm able to learn some more soon, I'll try to pass along what I can find out... in the meantime, any additional advice would continue to be very welcomed... Thanks again to all for the input/feedback!


        • #5
          It may help a bit to learn how these things work.

          Most of these devices have water chemically bound to mineral fibers on the inside. When they get hot they release steam. So during a fire your papers are "steamed" and after the fire you will find your papers wet but otherwise unharmed.

          You can see why this sort of system will not work for digital media or photographs. They will likely not survive this process.

          The best thing for digital media is to have it in two places at once. A copy in your house and a copy someplace else (work, storage, etc). Digital media is easy to copy and the chances of something bad happening in both places at once is very small.


          • #6
            Fireproof File Cabinet Info

            Here are a few tips and a bit of information about fireproof file cabinets and safes. First of all, I want to start off by saying that I am one of the founders of K.L. Security Enterprises, LLC and we are a leading reseller of both Schwab Corp and Fireking products. I am not attempting to sell anything to you, just provide you with information that is vital in researching this industry.

            First of all, if you are going to purchase a fireproof file cabinet or safe make sure that it is UL Rated. UL Tested is not enough, this simply means that the manufacturer submitted their product for testing to Underwrites Laboratories - IT DOES NOT MEAN IT PASSED THE TEST. If you have ever seen the "Fireproof" safes in department stores they fall into the UL TESTED category, or it may say "Tested to UL Standards", don't be fooled. There are two main UL Ratings associated with Fireproof containers, they are as follows:

            UL 350 Rating - This is the test that Fireproof File cabinets are subjected to in order to show proof of their ability to prevent the INTERNAL temperature of the cabinet from exceeding 350 degrees. Paper begins to char at 400 degrees. This rating is ONLY advised for the storage of paper documents.

            UL 125 Rating - This is the test that Fireproof Safes are subjected to and prevents the internal temperature from exceeding 125 degrees. This is a MUST if you are storing anything to the effect of computer disks, film, or any other form of plastic based media. Reason being, it begins to melt at 140 degrees.

            With all of that said, there are definate differences between most of the manufacturers on the market today. Here are a couple of differences:

            Fireking - All Fireking cabinets carry the UL Impact Rating, which you are already familiar with.

            Schwab Corp - Offers a line of the Trident Series cabinets which you are also already familiar with as well as superior construction. Their cabinets have a one piece construction outer shell, meaning that you don't have that top "cap" that you see on most cabinets. Their handles are recessed and the interiors are finished.

            If you need to store some media, if its a small amount, I would suggest getting a Media Cooler in addition to the Fireproof file cabinet. This, when placed inside a UL 350 Rated cabinet, affords a UL 125 Rating. With our company, they run $229.00, much less expensive than purchasing a UL 125 Rated Safe in addition to the Fireproof File Cabinet.

            If you choose to visit our site, you will find that we offer a wealth of information about all aspects of this industry. Feel free to send me an email or give me a call if you would like additional information.

            Travis Easter
            National Accounts Manager
            K.L. Security Enterprises, LLC