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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, I'm insured.

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 home.


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.

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Copyright 1999 Schwab Corporation   Last Updated in April 2002