Q: Why do
I need a special file? My everyday files are metal - they won't burn.
A: Everyday metal files may not burn, but they will
directly conduct the fire's heat inside, where your records will ignite and burn. In a
sense, your metal files become incinerators.
Q: What good is a product that is rated Class 350 or Class
125? Fires get much hotter than 350°F or 125°F.
A: The UL class rating signifies the maximum
internal temperature allowed during the fire test. Depending on the length of the UL fire
test, the external heat to which the product is subjected will range from 1550°F to
2000°F; yet the internal temperatures cannot exceed 350°F or 125°F- for paper or
computer media, respectively.
Q: What good is a product that is only rated for one hour?
Fires last longer than that.
A: The average fire burns at around 800°F. As it
passes through the building, the fire's intensity changes as flammable items are consumed.
Fires usually average only 20 minutes in any location. This intense burn is comparable to
the burn portion of the UL test. After the flammable items are consumed in the fire, the
overall temperature decreases, leaving items inside the fire to absorb the radiant heat.
This part of the fire is comparable to the cool down portion of the UL test. Depending on
the product being tested, the cool down portion of the test can last as long as 15-25
hours, during which the internal temperature and humidity levels cannot exceed the
standards set forth by the test. Most products that fail the UL test fail during this cool
down period. Be wary of marketing hype that says "tested to UL standards" -
tested doesn't necessarily mean the product passed the test. A one-hour rating means the
product will also survive the cool down period.
Q: Why should I buy records protection products? After all,
A: Fire insurance is available, but many fire
sufferers found out the hard way that insurance will only pay on losses that can be
documented. If your records are lost, you must still be able to document to the insurance
company exactly what was lost and what it was worth before they will pay. Fire sufferers
have also found out that some items can never be totally reconstructed, even if insurance
pays. Vendor/client files, contracts, personnel files, engineering blueprints, accounts
receivable and payable - can you and your staff remember or recreate all the information
for all these categories? Personal records such as wills, passports, wedding/divorce
papers, birth certificates, baby pictures, household goods inventory, tax records, and
personal treasures (such as art masterpieces by your child) should all be protected at
Q: Why do I need a special product for computer media? Don't
fire files and safes protect everything from fire?
A: Fire files and safes are available with
different ratings, because paper and media require different forms of protection. During a
fire, paper is more durable than media and can tolerate heat up to 420°F before igniting.
However, paper will dry out and become brittle when exposed to heat. So, the paper rated
file or safe is designed to release a little steam inside to combat the heat's drying
effect when the internal temperature nears 300°F. Media such as diskettes, CDs, and tapes
cannot tolerate either the higher temperature or the humidity levels found in the paper
rated products. They must be stored in an environment that will stay below 125°F and 80%
humidity in order to be protected.
Q: Does the insulation ever lose its effectiveness?
A: Some insulation loses its effectiveness over
time. All insulation designated as "wet", "oven-baked" or
"oven-dried" loses its free-floating moisture over time, thereby compromising
its fire-resistant capabilities. Only Schwab's unique, chemically dry insulation will
maintain its effectiveness, since it has no free-floating moisture to evaporate. Until the
product is heated by fire, the moisture remains safely encapsulated.
Q: After a fire, do I need to wait to open the file or safe?
Is spontaneous combustion a concern?
A: You should wait until you can comfortably rest
your hand on the product before you try opening it after the fire. Spontaneous combustion
is a concern, and if the product is opened before it has had a chance to naturally cool
down, the hot records could ignite when exposed to fresh air. Artificially cooling the
outside by pouring water on the product will shorten the cool down period, but may give a
false impression of how cool the insides are, so be careful!
Q: Can I reuse the insulated product after a fire?
A: Once the product has been in a fire, the
insulation loses its protectiveness. There is no way to reinsulate the product, and it
should be discarded. If you send your retailer a testimonial letter and pictures of the
fire, they will process a replacement order for you free of charge under Schwab's Lifetime
After-The-Fire Replacement Guarantee.
Q: Are these products waterproof?
A: UL does not test for water resistance. Prior to
being in a fire, all insulated products are not tightly sealed. If they are submerged in
water, water will seep inside. After the insulated product is exposed to heat, the
insulation expands, forcing all joints to tightly seal and keep water out.
Q: Are these products theft or security rated?
A: Fire resistant products generally use relatively
light weight steel to reduce heat transference, which in turn prevents the products from
attaining a security rating. No matter what type of lock is used, the products can be
broken into. Security locks are useful if you want to prevent someone from breaking into
your file or safe without leaving obvious physical proof.
Q: Are these products really fire proof?
A: The actual UL classification is for fire
resistance. No product on the market has been tested and proven to survive against every
possible fire, so UL will only issue ratings based on a product's proven ability to resist
fires of specific temperatures and lengths.