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by Richard Westell
Fire protection requirements vary depending upon what items require protection. For example, the protection required for paper and documents will differ greatly from the need to protect digital and magnetic media as differing media items damage at different temperatures.
For home use, generally you need nothing more than protection for items such as cash, passports, important documentation such as birth certificates etc. Our range of fire safes and fireproof boxes vary widely from small, fire resistant boxes that are easily transportable and give you 30 minutes of fire resistance up to AiS Insurance Approved fire safes with up to 120 minutes fire protection for paper.
The protection of digital media varies from CD’s and DVD’s to USB memory sticks. Most ‘entry level’ fire resistant boxes and safes provide a certain amount of protection for CD’s DVD’s and USB’s.
If you require fire protection for magnetic media, then you will need a specific data safe with fire protection ranging from 60-120 minutes. These safes have thicker walls to keep the internal temperature down when subjected to fire.
Fire Filing Cabinets and Cupboards
Generally used for the safe storage of large amounts of paper documents, these come with fire protection from 30-120 minutes and in a wide variety of sizes to suit most needs. Some models can have a data box fitted so magnetic media can also be stored.
Different Types of Fire Testing
When it comes to fire testing there are various tests to look out for; generally these will be UL, NT or LFS codes.
The UL or Underwriters Laboratories are a US based non-profit organisation who test hundreds of thousands of manufactured products to ensure they conform to a certain standard. A UL listing for a fire safe will specify the standard of protection the safe provides for its contents when exposed to fire. The safe will have been tested to expose all six sides to fire. Length and temperatures of fire protection vary depending upon Class of cover, generally for half hour it is tested to 843 degrees Celcius, for 1 hour it is 926 degrees and for 2 hours its 1010 degrees Celcius. All hour tested safes from Sentry come with a 15m drop test and 30 metres for 2 hour tested safes.
The NT fire test originates from NordTest based in Sweden. They aim to develop innovation and improve standards and is a well known fire test and in some respects considered an industry standard. The protection varies depending upon the contents of the safe, e.g. NT Fire 017-60 Paper ensures one hour of protection for paper at temperatures up to 900 degrees Celcius.
An ‘LFS’ or Light Fire Storage test is the European standard recognised by all members of the EU including the UK. This is less commonly known as the EN15659 Fire Test. Products tested to this standard are designed to provide a low level of fire protection. Safes covered by the LFS test will have been heated for 30-60 minutes up to a maximum of 945 degrees Celsius. The internal temperature may not rise above 170 degrees Celsius during this process.