Fireproof cupboards buying guide

Contents

A fireproof cupboard could save you losing valuable documents and data

Understanding fireproof cupboards

How fireproof cupboards work

Understanding fire ratings

Questions to ask yourself

The security of your fireproof cupboard

What should you keep in a fireproof cupboard?

Further information

Introduction

Many businesses need more than just standard filing cabinets and metal cupboards to meet their storage needs. Companies with items of value or sensitive items to store may require a way to keep such things safe, secure and protected. A fireproof cabinet is a great way to provide this protection in a simple, hassle free manner.

Fireproof cabinets are very much like fireproof safes, in that they are insulated, tested and certified by independent assessors. They feature locks, and can often be bolted down to add to the security. Some have a cash value rating, which can be useful if you need to keep what you’re putting inside insured to a certain value, and can have electronic locks, key locks and even biometric locks for added security.

The biggest advantage of a fireproof cupboard over a safe is its large and convenient size. For companies looking to store archives of files, multiple items or large sized items, a fireproof cupboard will provide excellent flexibility and a practical amount of storage space.

In this guide, we’ll look at whether you actually need a fireproof safe, or if something less engineered will do, as well as running through the specifications of different cupboards and how you can figure out what you need. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of different features, and outline what you need to be thinking about if you’re choosing a fireproof cupboard for your home or your business.

Fireproof cupboards can be a fairly major investment, so it’s important to get it right first time. If you’re unsure of what you need or have any further questions, you can talk to our expert team for advice. Simply call us on 0844 248 7001 from Monday to Friday, 8.30 – 5.30, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Do you really need a fireproof cupboard?

Whether you’re looking for home or for business, the question must be asked; do you really need fireproof cupboards? We all have important documents, files and other bits and pieces that would be very difficult to replace in the event of them being destroyed, but does that really mean we need to invest in these high-tech fire safe cupboards?

What do you need to store?

Most commonly, the things we need to store safely away from fire are paper based. Although much of our home and business lives is increasingly being digitised, it doesn’t prevent an awful lot of very important information still coming to us in paper form. Examples of some of these types of documents include:

  • Account histories
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Lists of business or personal contacts
  • Files about staff, business contacts or clients
  • Deeds
  • Custody paperwork
  • Insurance policies
  • Divorce papers
  • Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Payroll records
  • Mortgage papers
  • Warranty information
  • Educational certificates
  • Wills
  • Certificates for stocks and bonds
  • Tax paperwork

There may be other things you have in paper form which would be either very difficult, very expensive or just very inconvenient to try and replace, so you might be able to add to this list.

As well as paper based products, files and folders, many of us keep an awful lot of important information in digital format. Not wanting to clog up space on smartphones, tablets and PC’s, much of this data is transferred to a variety of storage devices.

Photos, videos, personnel files, databases… what do you keep stored in digital format? Think about all the memories, information and work you would lose if all your storage devices were lost. Think about all your:

  • SD cards
  • USB memory sticks
  • Digital cameras
  • MP3 players
  • External hard drives
  • DVD’s
  • CD’s
  • Passport storage devices
  • And more

Even if these items do mean a lot to you, do you really need to invest in a fireproof cupboard to store them? Wouldn’t a metal box provide sufficient protection for your items?

 Fireproof cupboards or metal boxes?

Fires are more common than you would think. In fact, each year the UK sees in the region of 39,000 fires in domestic dwellings, 88 per cent of which are completely accidental. In commercial premises, there are around 22,000 fires every year too, so although you do what you can to make your premises fire safe, you never know when you might fall victim to a tragic accident.

For a householder, losing vital documents, treasured memories and irreplaceable items is heart-breaking. In a business, it can be fatal. A study by Gartner showed that, following an accident or loss such as a fire, around 40 per cent of businesses will fail to reopen. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, it is crucial to protect those things that matter most, if you want to avoid the disastrous consequences a fire can have.

Not so long ago, many homes and businesses would rely on simple, metal storage cabinets or boxes for storing their most important documents. This was considered to be pretty good practice, and those metal boxes or cupboards could be picked up on the high street for a fraction of the cost of proper fireproof cabinets. However, following extensive testing of materials and technologies, it has become clear that a metal box just doesn’t serve a purpose in the event that a fire does break out.

Flames and fire can burn to over 600 degrees C; a hot enough temperature to burn, melt or even completely decompose a simple metal cabinet. These cabinets were not air tight either, so even if they did survive the fire, the heat and smoke would have discoloured or destroyed the items inside. Prolonged exposure will turn a metal cabinet into an incinerator, and all that will be left of the precious contents will be ash.

Modern fireproof cabinets, safes and cupboards are purpose built to protect the contents from fire, heat and smoke. Dependent on the specifications of the unit, they sometimes provide protection against other dangers, such as water from sprinklers or hoses too. Some will even protect against flood water for a limited amount of time.

When it comes to the things you treasure most, there’s no sense in trying to cut corners. Choosing a purpose built fireproof cabinet is the best protection you can offer your valuables, and a wise choice for any home or business to invest in.

Other benefits of fireproof cupboards

As well as the obvious benefits of protecting your items from fire, fireproof cupboards may also be beneficial in a number of other ways. For instance:

  • Protection from other disasters: Because fireproof cupboards are meticulously manufactured to offer the very best protection possible, they are also likely to offer protection against other eventualities. For instance, natural disasters such as earthquakes, lightning strikes and flood could spell trouble for your business, but if your crucial items are stored away in a fireproof cupboard, you can be confident they are highly likely to survive.
  • Added security: Many fireproof cupboards are more like large sized safes than just cupboards, and come with a variety of choices on locking mechanism and cash rating value for insurance purposes. This means that your items will be more secure from fraud, theft and espionage than they would be in a standard cupboard, protecting your items from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Less at risk of theft: In the event of a burglary, the first place robbers will go is to your safe, as this is where they are most likely to find cash, jewellery and other high value items. If you keep your crucial paperwork and digital media in with your cash, there is a chance that the whole thing will simply get swept up and taken away by the thieves. Keeping paperwork separate from high value items in a cupboard is more likely to mean it is overlooked in a robbery, and because of the size of the cupboard and its weight, there is no chance that the whole thing will be carried away by the burglars for safe cracking later on.
  • A multifunctional storage space: Fireproof cupboards can be used to store everything from photographs to disc drives and more. Not only is this a useful storage space for your business, helping you keep clutter out of the office, but it’s also a reliable, assured space where you can keep things safe from harm.
  • Safer than the cloud? As much as we’d all love to go truly ‘paperless’, moving to the cloud can be an expensive business. Not only that, but with all the worries about cyber security and hacking in the press recently, it’s starting to become apparent that maybe things aren’t as safe in the cloud as we might like to presume. Sometimes our peace of mind can be greater when we keep things in a concrete, touchable format, and securely store it ourselves where we always know where it is.

Whatever your reasons for considering fireproof cupboards for your home or business, we hope to be able to help you decide if it’s the right option for you, as well as helping you to understand the various features and options that will help you narrow down your choice.

Understanding fireproof cupboards

To choose the right fireproof cupboard for your needs, you’ll need to understand what the differences are between the different types. For this, we’ll need to think about what you plan to store in the unit, and what the differences in requirements re between each type. Mainly, these items will fall into one of three categories.

  1. Paper: Certificates, documents, deeds and cash
  2. Digital media: Memory sticks, DVDs, CDs, MP3 players, external hard drives and digital cameras
  3. Data and magnetic media: Computer back up tapes, floppy discs, video tapes, cassettes, internal hard drives, film and microfiche

Each of these categories is accompanied by a different heat tolerance, as defined by fireproof product manufacturers. These are:

  • For paper and cash: 177 degrees C
  • For digital media: 120 degrees C
  • Film and tape: 66 degrees C
  • Magnetic media and data: 52 degrees C

As well as considering these temperature tolerances, you should be aware of other nuances which may affect the storage of your materials. For instance, paper based materials such as documents and cash could be damaged by water or dampness. Magnetic media and tape can be corrupted by the electromagnetic interference which can be generated by fire too.

In the event of a fire, your fireproof cabinets will be subjected to many different attacks. The temperature will rise to around 450 degrees C, although this can be as high as 600 degrees plus. As well as this, it will be subjected to flames, smoke, dust and hot gasses. The rise in temperature will cause humidity levels inside the cabinet to rise, causing damage to sensitive materials.

Cupboards which have been made specifically to reduce humidity will be a better choice for things like film and data, which have been tested to endure the following tolerance levels:

  • Data: 80 per cent humidity
  • Film: 80 per cent humidity

Buying a fireproof cupboard which is humidity resistant is not the same as buying a waterproof cabinet, although many businesses commonly make this mistake. If you have sprinklers near the location where the cabinet will be placed, you should look for a waterproof model as this will give the contents some protection against spray from sprinklers, extinguishers and hoses.

There aren’t many cupboards which will avoid damage from long lasting flood water, although most waterproof cabinets will provide protection for around 30 minutes of submergence.

How fireproof cupboards work

Being fire resistant is, obviously, a crucial element of any fireproof cupboard, but how does this process actually work? Being resistant to fire is a fairly basic process, requiring the item to cut off one or more of the three elements that sustain a fire: Fuel, oxygen and heat. Even a wooden plank can be fire resistant if it is wet, but we want our fireproof cupboards to be a bit higher tech than that.

The challenge here is not simply resisting fire, but actually protecting against it and protecting against the heat it gives out. In the case of a fire in a home or an office, the objects in the home don’t have to physically burn in order to be destroyed. Often, the temperature of the environment during the fire is enough to destroy items of paper, electronics and other sensitive materials.

As well as protecting from heat, fire cabinets need to protect from smoke. The nature of uncontrolled fires means they are consuming all sorts of plastics, cloth and other materials, some of which will be giving off a lot of black smoke. If that smoke gets in among your documents, they’ll be no good to you anymore.

Modern fireproof cupboards are designed to protect against high temperatures for a long time, long enough for the fire to move away from the area where the cupboard is located. Depending on the model, most fireproof cupboards will protect against 600 up to 1100+ degrees C, for between 30 and 60 minutes. But how does this actually work, and how can you be confident that your belongings are safe inside?

There are three basic elements to keeping the fire and heat away from your valuables:

  1. Insulation: Heat resistant materials will keep internal temperatures down
  2. Sealed doors: Well sealed doors keep smoke out of the interior
  3. Thick walls: The thick fire-resistant walls stop the cabinet from melting or breaking apart

Let’s look in more detail at how this all works.

The construction of a fireproof cupboard

Keeping things safe from fire has been a priority for homeowners and businesses alike for many years. The first fireproof cabinets were designed in the mid-1800s, using clay and mineral coatings to make the unit more resistant to fire. Later on, manufacturers started making fireproof cupboards with two separate chests inside, giving two layers for added protection.

Modern safes use steel alloys and synthetic compounds to provide the very best construction and robust nature. Safes are rated according to the level of protection provided at a certain temperature for a specific time. All safes will have these features in common, although there are some differences between various brands and specifications.

  • Flame resistance

Every unit which claims to be fireproof will be manufactured from a flame-resistant material which will not become degraded when exposed to fire. Typical fires rage at up to 600 – 700 degrees C, so if the exterior of the cupboard melts at these temperatures, you’ve already lost.

  • Heat resistant insulation

The heat resistant insulation is designed to keep the inside of the safe cool. Many safe manufacturers use minerals such as vermiculite or perlite to manufacture this insulation layer. These materials are incredibly good insulators and are able to resist the ingress of high temperatures of heat for a long period of time.

  • Thick walls

Fireproofing a cupboard means it’s a lot smaller on the inside than it appears on the outside, this is because it requires thick layers of insulation between the two metal walls. This means it will take longer to transfer the heat from the outside of the unit to the inside.

  • Properly sealed doors

The door needs to be completely air tight, stopping any smoke from entering the interior. Black smoke can be just as damaging to your precious items as any heat or flame, so it’s crucial that these doors keep it out.

The good news about all this is that, because of the features required for a fireproof cupboard, it will be a highly secure safe too. All the elements that will keep your contents safe from fire, will also keep them safe from burglars too, so you can be confident that your cupboard will do a great job in all respects.

Is fireproof the same as fire resistant?

Ultimately, there is no such thing as ‘fireproof’. When exposed to enough flame and heat, anything will, eventually, burn. In terms of cupboards and safes, however, fireproof tends to describe the more heavy-duty units, and those which offer a great deal of fire protection. Metal boxes, for instance, could be described as ‘fire resistant’, as they would certainly resist a fire, but they tend not to be described as ‘fireproof.

Fireproof cupboards, cabinets, filing cabinets and safes have to be tested for fire resistance, and should provide a good amount of protection for prolonged exposure to heat and fire. The protection is awarded to the items inside the cupboard or safe, and not to the safe itself, so don’t expect your fireproof item to emerge from a raging blaze completely unscathed. Normally, they cupboard is destroyed outwardly, but the items inside have been protected and are not damaged.

Understanding fire ratings

In order to be sold as ‘fireproof’, a cupboard should be tested independently to determine its level of fire resistance. These are similar to the safety ratings used to determine how burglar proof your cupboard or safe is, and give you some indication as to what your cupboard can withstand.

Some of the tests you might see mentioned by manufacturers include:

  • EN 1047 Fire Test

A European standard, sometimes also referred to as the VDMA 24911. To achieve this rating, cupboards are heated in a furnace to 945 – 1049 degrees C for either one or two hours, depending on the level of rating the manufacturer is looking to achieve.

As well as this, safes and cupboards can be tested for impact resistance too. For this test, the unit is heated for around 20 – 30 minutes and then dropped from 9.1m onto a surface of broken bricks, designed to simulate a collapsed building. It is then left to cool, and should it rupture or break at any point, the test is failed.

Safes that pass this test are awarded ratings based on what the can protect and for how long. Safes which protect paper will be awarded S60P or S120P, depending if they can protect for 60 or 120 minutes. Those which can protect sensitive data materials, such as floppy disks (maximum temperature or 50 degrees and humidity of 85 per cent) are given the classification S60DIS and S120DIS respectively.

The final classification is for USB memory sticks, external hard drives and other similar items, which need to stay below 70 degrees and 85 per cent humidity. These are given the classification of either S60D or S120D depending on the amount of time they can protect the items.

  • EN 15659 Fire Test

This is a European standard also, which is recognised across all member states including here in the UK. It may also be classified as LFS, which indicates ‘light fire storage’. Items with this classification provide a low level of fire protection, and should be used for less important documents and valuables.

For the test, the cabinet is heated for 30 minutes at 842 degrees C or 60 minutes at 845 degrees C. The internal temperature must remain below 170 degrees C. These types of cupboards are only safe for storing paper, and are classified as either 30P or 60P depending on the amount of time they have achieved.

  • KSG 4500 Fire Test

If you buy a fireproof cabinet from Korea, you may see this standard applied. The KSG test is Korean administered, and tests items to keep their interior below 177 degrees C. There are three main derivatives of this classification:

  1. KSG 4500 – 60: The item has been tested in a furnace with temperatures of 924 degrees C for one hour.
  2. KSG 4500 – 120: The item has been tested in a furnace of 1010 degrees C for two hours.
  3. KSG 4500 – 180: The items have been tested in a furnace of 1122 degrees C for three hours.

This test can sometimes incorporate an explosive resistance test, and to an impact test where the cabinet is dropped.

  • NT FIRE 017 Fire Test

This test originates from Nordic countries and is carried out often by the SP testing lab in Sweden, a highly regarded fire testing facility. There are several types of test carried out depending on what type of contents the cabinet is intended to protect, such as:

  • NT FIRE 017 tests for paper: Paper chars or combusts at over 177 degrees C, and this test ensures that the internal temperature does not increase by more than 150 degrees C over room temperature. The paper classifications depend on the height of the temperature tested, and the length of time protection is offered. You’ll see NT FIRE 017-60 Paper, NT FIRE 017-90 Paper and NT FIRE 017-120 Paper, which denotes protection for 60, 90 and 120 minutes respectively.
  • NT FIRE 017 tests for data: These similarly test at different temperatures and for different lengths of time. In this case, temperature may not increase by more than 50 degrees C. You’ll see NT FIRE 017-60 Data, NT FIRE 017-90 Data and NT FIRE 017-120 Data, depending on the amount of time protection is offered.
  • NT FIRE 017 tests for Diskette: The diskette classification applies to the most fragile items of all. Cassette tapes, films, floppy discs and similar items are tested for this requirement. Again, they are heated to different temperatures and for different times, ensuring the interior does not rise more than 30 degrees C, resulting in classifications: NT FIRE 017-60 Diskette, NT FIRE 017-90 Diskette and NT FIRE 017-120 Diskette.
  • UL 72 Fire Tests

The UL fire tests are an American standard, conducted by the Underwriters Laboratory of America (UL for short). They publish a range of fire resistance standards which can be applied to products not just in the US, but worldwide too. The fire test is referred to as UL72 and is a highly regarded classification for any fireproof product.

There are many variants on the UL72 classification, with cabinets subjected to temperatures ranging from 843 degrees C up to 1093 degrees C. The cabinets are heated for different lengths of time, depending on the time classification awarded, and are given different classifications depending on the temperature sustained within the cabinet.

  • UL 72 Class 350: Has been tested to keep temperatures below 177 degrees C, making them suitable for paper.
  • UL 72 Class 150: Has been tested to keep temperatures below 65 degrees C and humidity below 85 per cent, making them suitable for data such as USB drives, flash drives and external hard drives.
  • UL 72 Class 125: Has been tested to keep temperatures below 55 degrees C and humidity below 80 per cent, making them suitable for data such as floppy discs, film, and other sensitive media.

As well as these tests, the UL perform tests for explosion protection and impact tests.

This is not an exhaustive list of fire protection tests, so you may come across some other classifications. Getting to know each test in depth is not really necessary for your purchasing process, but it can help to give you some background.

The most important thing for you is to recognise the difference between products which have actually been awarded classifications, and those which simply say they have been ‘prepared in line with’, ‘ready for’ or ‘manufactured to’ certain standards. This means they have not actually been tested at all, and therefore offer no guarantee or their protection.

Questions to ask yourself

Before you launch into product catalogues and online stores, there are a few questions to ask yourself which will help you understand what it is you require.

What size of cupboard do you require?

It’s important to remember that, because of the construction of the cupboard and the amount of insulation materials built into it, its internal dimensions will be much smaller than the external size would suggest. For this reason, it’s important to understand just how much storage space your cupboard will offer, and that this is suitable for your needs.

Do you require connectivity?

If you are planning to store computer media inside your safe, do you need some form of connectivity to allow you to use the media without removing it from the cabinet? Some fireproof cupboards let you back up your data to the drives stored inside remotely, using a USB connection to attach the stored items to the outside world.

What fire safety rating do you need?

Fire ratings tell you how long the unit can maintain temperatures within a certain tolerance level. These range from 30 minutes up to 240 minutes of fire, and will maintain temperatures to a safe level when the surrounding temperatures are up to 840 degrees to 1000 degrees plus. Checking these variables will ensure you buy a cupboard that is going to take good care of your stored items.

Do you also need a security rated cupboard?

When it comes to protecting valuable items, you want to be sure you are doing your bit to keep your insurance premiums down too. Many fireproof cupboards also come with a cash rating too, which means they are certified as safe to protect items of up to a particular value. If you are storing cash, jewellery or other valuable items inside your fireproof cupboard, you should be aware of the different cash ratings available, and ensure you are buying a product that offers adequate protection. Depending on your insurer, you may be asked to pay more of a premium to insure your items, or they may agree to insure up to the value of the cash rating of the unit.

What lock type do you need?

Locking mechanisms for fireproof cupboards range from simple lock and key arrangements through to high tech security locks, with pin codes or even biometric scanners to allow access. The more technical the lock, the more you’ll need to pay for your cupboard, so it’s important to evaluate how precious the items you’re storing really are so that you can get the best value for money, without overpaying for features that you don’t really need.

Should your cupboard be water resistant?

Ideally, the answer to this question will invariably be ‘yes’. Unless you are storing items which will not suffer any damage at all in the event of being made wet, you should consider investing in a water-resistant cupboard. This will offer protection from sprinkler water, from water from fire service’s hoses and also from liquid from fire extinguishers.

Do you need it to be impact tested too?

Impact testing checks how the fireproof cupboard will perform if it is subjected to fire and then dropped. This will give you some idea of whether your security could become compromised in the aftermath of a fire, for instance if a floor was to burn through and the cupboard was to drop through the floors below. Impact tests heat the fireproof cupboard to around 600 degrees C and then drop it onto a broken brick and concrete floor from a height of ten metres, and give you some reassurance that, if this were to happen, your security would not be affected.

Do you want to store computer media, magnetic data or film in the cupboard?

If you do, you will need to look for a cupboard with extra features to keep your items safe. Computer media cupboards will maintain temperatures much lower than cupboard for paper media and documents, and will resist humidity increases of more than 80 per cent, to the tolerances specified in the manufacturers information.

What is my budget?

Although the amount you have to spend is less important than finding the right cupboard for your needs, it is still important to have a figure in mind from the start. Knowing roughly what ball park you are in for your investment will enable you to narrow down your options considerably, and to be realistic about what you can afford. Striking a balance between quality and value for money is key, so have a number in mind from the outset to help you do this.

The security of your fireproof cupboard

As well as fire resistance, you may want to consider keeping your precious valuables burglar proofed too. For insurance purposes, you will need to have a locking mechanism on your fireproof cupboard, and will have a number of options available depending on the nature of what you are storing and the cupboard you are considering. Each locking cupboard is given a cash rating and insurance coverage value, which should indicate to you how secure the cabinet really is.

Understanding cash ratings

A cupboard’s cash rating tells you it’s level of security, and should give you some guidance as to what can and cannot be stored inside. Specifically, the cash rating highlights the amount of cash value (or equivalent) that your insurer will usually cover you for when it is being kept in the cupboard. These ratings are most frequently provided to safes, although you can also find many fireproof cupboards which carry a cash rating as well.

This affects your insurance in that you may only be covered for a small amount of cash if it is kept on the premises, but can bump up this figure by using a cash rated storage device. For instance, your general insurance policy may only cover you for £500 of cash on the property. However, by using a cash rated cupboard or safe which is rated to £10,000, your insurer will thereby insure you for up to £10,000 if that cash is kept in the cabinet.

This is completely at your insurers discretion, and simply having a cash rating on your cupboard does not necessarily mean that your insurer will abide by this level of security. For this reason, it’s always worth talking to them first if you plan to store high value items so you can be confident that they are going to insure you for the value you require.

Your contents insurance may have other requirements too, such as using your burglar alarm or keeping windows locked. It may also have a bearing on the type of locking mechanism you chose, so make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions before making a purchase, to avoid a failed claim later down the line.

Certifications for cash ratings

Secure cupboards will have been independently tested and will have a test certificate given to them. These include European standard ratings such as EN14450, EN1143-1 or AIS approved. Here’s what each of those certifications means:

EN1143-1

This is a Eurograde certification, and has a rating number of between one and three associated with it. The higher the number, the higher the cash value rating:

  • Grade 0: £6000
  • Grade 1: £10,000
  • Grade 2: £17,500
  • Grade 3: £35,000
  • Grade 4: £60,000
  • Grade 5: £100,000
  • Grade 6: £150,000
  • Grade 7: £250,000
  • Grade 8: £400,000
  • Grade 9: £650,000
  • Grade 10: £1,000,000
  • Grade 11: £1,500,000
  • Grade 12: £2,250,000
  • Grade 13: £3,500,000

EN14450

This rating contains requirements and technical testing for two different security levels, both of which are below grade 0 in the Eurograde system. They are:

  • S1: £2,000
  • S2: £4,000

AiS approved

Classes of secure fireproof cupboards in any of these categories can also be awarded an ‘AiS approved’ certification. This indicates that the awarding body, the Association of Insurance Surveyors, have judged the cupboard to meet a high standard of quality and security. This doesn’t automatically mean that your insurance company will accept it, but it does indicate that you are looking at a very good model and there is a good chance that they will.

Your insurer will want your secure cabinet to have one of these official certifications if you would like them to insure the valuables that you plan to keep inside. Be very wary of any product which states it is ‘designed to be compliant with EN 14450’ or ‘equivalent to EN 1443-1’ or similar. Don’t rely on ‘advisory’ cash ratings from manufacturers who have not bothered to have their products certified, as this will not mean anything to your insurer and will not protect your valuables.

How much cash rating do you need?

Figuring out how much cash rating you need for your fireproof cupboard is a relatively simple process. Whatever the cash rating value is, you can store that much cash inside it, or ten times that value in other items. So, for example:

  • £2,000 cash rating = £20,000 in valuables
  • £10,000 cash rating = £100,000 in valuables
  • £35,000 cash rating = £350,000 in valuables

This is an either-or situation, not an ‘and’ situation, so you can’t store £2,000 in cash AND £20,000 in valuables in a £2,000 rated cupboard.

If you want to work out your required cash rating, simply take the amount of money you plan to store in the unit, take that away from the total cash rating and multiply the remainder by ten to find the amount of valuables the unit can contain.

For example:

  • A fireproof cupboard is rated S2, which means £4,000 cash rating value
  • You want to store up to £1,500 in cash inside it each day.
  • £4,000 minus £1,500 cash = £2,500 cash value remaining
  • If you want to store valuables in it also, these can be up to ten times the remaining cash value
  • £2,500 multiplied by ten = £25,000 of valuables

Try to think of the maximum amount of things you want to store in your cupboard when you are purchasing a new one, and purchase the highest rated cupboard for the job. Storing too much in your cupboard and going over the guidelines for safe value of stored items means you won’t be covered by your insurance company in the event of a claim.

The cash rating tells you how secure the cupboard will be, and how much your insurance company will be likely to cover in the event of a fire or break in. If you’re still unsure on these guidelines, it can be a good idea to discuss things with your insurer, and take recommendations on the cash rating of your item from them.

Locking mechanisms

Whether you need a cash rated cupboard or not, you are likely to have a choice of locking mechanisms available to you. If you do choose a cash rated unit, there may be less choice available, as there will be a minimum-security standard applied. However, you may still have a choice, so it’s important to understand the different types of locks and the pros and cons of their use.

  • Key locks: The most basic locking mechanism, key locks are pretty reliable and effective in many situations. However, they are reliant on the human element of not letting the key fall into the wrong hands. If the items you are storing are particularly sensitive in nature, or valuable, it can be all too easy to have your key copied and to lose security on your key locked cabinet. For low value items or low risk businesses, using a key lock may be completely adequate.
  • Dial combinations: Dial combinations are getting rarer these days, as electronic versions overtake the popularity of these traditional safe style locks. Despite their declining popularity, they are inexpensive, reliable and very low maintenance. However, the lack of speed to gain access can be a problem for some users, so if you think you’d be likely to need to get at your contents in a hurry, it might not be the best choice.
  • Electrical code locks: Electronic locks are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Some require just four or five numbers for the code, others will take up to 16 digits for maximum security. They are usually modular, meaning you can often upgrade your existing locking system to one of these, or indeed downgrade to a mechanical lock if you don’t get along with them. The main downside is that people tend to forget codes, and it can be tough to override this system to get inside the cupboard. They do require also that you check on the batteries regularly, and that you update your combination code from time to time to avoid it falling into the wrong hands.
  • Biometric: Biometric locks are the most secure, fastest and most high tech option. They are also the most expensive. Usually using your fingerprint or thumb print as identification is pretty infallible, although there is a very slim margin of error that you don’t get with pin code locks. However, they are improving all the time, and offer the fastest, most hassle-free access to your stored items, so it’s well worth considering if top security is your priority.
  • Other options: As well as choosing the lock type, you might need to think whether you need a time lock on the unit as well. Some units are programmable, letting you lock down the cupboard between certain hours, which can be good for your peace of mind for times when you are not in the building. Some types also have the advantage of a slam action locking system for use in emergencies.

Here at office-furniture-online/” title=”View all articles about Office Furniture Online here”>Office Furniture Online, our fireproof cupboards are supplied with either electronic locks or key locks. For more advice on choosing security measures for your fireproof cupboards, talk to our team today.

Other considerations

If part of your reason for buying a fireproof cupboard is to provide a safe, secure storage location, there is one more thing to think about. Just as with a safe, if you plan to keep cash and / or valuables in your cupboard and want to have it insured, it needs to be bolted to the wall, floor or both. Either that, or it needs to weight over 1,000kg, which is rather impractical for most homes and businesses.

Many fireproof cupboards will come with a bolt down kit, enabling you to bolt them into the floor. This will ensure maximum security and will be required by your insurance company.

What should you keep in a fireproof cupboard?

It’s all too easy to become complacent about the security of our businesses, and to leave things lying around that really should be secured away. In this era of heightened security and concerns about data protection, it really makes sense to take every possible measure to protect our business and its sensitive assets.

For home users, again, we should be careful about what we leave lying around. Privacy is crucial if we want to protect our identity and assets, and keeping essential documents in a safe, burglar proofed location will help speed up the process if we need to use them later on.

It can be tempting to think that a safe deposit box in a bank is a better place to store such valuable things, but this can have its downsides too. Many of the things you’ll put in your fireproof cabinet could be required at a moment’s notice, for instance if a partner suddenly dies or an insurance claim is needed. If the safe deposit box is in the name of a person who subsequently passes away, they can be locked shut until the bank receives a death notice. This can mean an uncomfortable delay while you arrange paperwork from the courts, when you desperately need to get your hands-on things like their will, medical paperwork and legal documents.

Keep in mind that most banks are closed all weekend, and in the case of a bank holiday, it could be three or four days until you are able to request for the deposit box to be opened. This could be a costly delay, particularly if you’re waiting to get on with funeral preparations or want to access an insurance certificate following an accident. Having your own fireproof cabinet leaves you in the driving seat, able to access everything you need at a moment’s notice if necessary.

Once you’ve bought your fireproof cupboard, what should you put inside? These 10 things are the crucial items that should be stored in your shiny new cabinet.

  1. Birth certificates

Difficult to replace and essential for so many things, birth certificates need to be looked after with great care. For obtaining passports, enrolling in schools, getting married and more, a birth certificate is an essential piece of paper. If your birth certificate is lost or stolen, you will need to apply for a copy from the government. This costs, as a minimum, £9.25, but can take many days to arrive. They also offer a priority service for £23.40, and an express service for £50 and up. This is a delay and an expense you won’t have to deal with if you protect your birth certificat3e appropriately.

  1. Insurance information

Imagine you do suffer a fire; who will be the first people you call (aside of the fire service of course)? Whether you’re a home or business user, an unexpected fire is almost always followed by a panicked call to your insurance company for help. However, if you can’t remember who you are insured with or what your policy gives you, you could end up suffering inconvenient delays, which could affect the success of your claim. Many insurance providers offer funding for temporary housing, hotels and other such benefits following a fire, but if you don’t know how to call or that this is something you can request, you could miss out.

  1. Passports

Passports are another vulnerable document which are hard and expensive to replace if they are lost or stolen. Because HM Passport Office is keen to stop passports falling into the wrong hands, replacing a passport when you don’t have the original to send back can be purposefully tricky. You may have to attend an interview, and your application may take longer to process as a result. Not much good if you had a holiday booked the following week. It costs from £72.50 upwards to replace a passport, and more if you need it quickly, although an express service will often not be offered to those who have had their passport lost or stolen.

  1. Your will

When you draw up a will, your solicitor will usually keep a copy in their own fireproof cupboard or safe. You should also give a copy to your executor, and should keep a copy yourself. This should be stored in a safe, fireproof location so that you can access it in the event of a personal disaster. Imagine you passed away suddenly, but your solicitor was closed for the holidays and your executor was also away. Would you want your spouse or children coping with your death without any access to your will? It would delay the process of clearing up your estate and would mean that the funeral could not be planned, something which could cause unimaginable heartache for those you’ve left behind.

  1. The deeds to your home

If you own your house, or any other property in the UK or abroad, keeping your deeds safe is crucial. Proving ownership needs to be done at every stage of the process, and you never know when you’ll need to produce such documents at short notice. Keeping them in a fireproof cupboard means they are close at hand should you need them, but not at risk of being stolen or damaged if the worst should happen.

  1. Your vehicles registration document

Your V5 registration document is your proof of ownership of your vehicle. If your vehicle was stolen, for instance during a robbery of your home or business, losing this certificate in the process will cause all sorts of problems in terms of alerting police and claiming on insurance. Keeping it safe in a convenient location means you’ll quickly be able to prove ownership, and to obtain other essential information about the car such as its VIN number and chassis number.

  1. Irreplaceable photos

Granted, many of us have moved to ‘the cloud’ already, and are storing our images, videos and other family memories in online locations instead of at home. But many families will also have irreplaceable family photos which are not in digital format, and these need protecting at home. Whether it’s negatives you can use to get more photos printed, or actual photos showing past ancestors of your family, keeping them safe, secure and protected at home is your duty to your future generations.

  1. Tax forms and receipts

HMRC are not infallible, and they do make mistakes from time to time. For this reason, you should keep all your records in a safe, secure location to ensure you can double check on anything in the future. Sometimes tax demands can be made many years into the future, and without the relevant paperwork, you’ll be unable to argue your case. Keeping all your tax returns, receipts for paying and other tax related documents such as P45s and P60s in a safe fireproof cabinet.

  1. Cash

If you have a lot of cash hanging about, whether you’re a home or a business, you should keep it locked away in a fireproof cabinet or safe. Fireproof cupboards will sometimes have cash ratings given to them, which means they are insurance approved to be a safe place to store a certain amount of cash. Cash is irreplaceable, and if it goes up in smoke, that’s it gone. You’d have a hard time proving to your insurance company just how much cash you had, therefore they often won’t replace any more than a minor amount.

Further information

At Office Furniture Online, we offer for sale a number of fire cupboards from market leading brands Phoenix and Securikey. Our fire cupboards are available in a range of designs, capacities, locking mechanisms and fire ratings. If you need help in choosing the best product for your needs, simply get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

All our fire cupboards come with free delivery to UK mainland addresses. If you need a cupboard but are outside of the UK, just talk to us and we’ll arrange delivery for a fair, competitive price. If you would like more personalised assistance and advice, simply call us on 0844 248 7001 or email us at sales@officefurnitureonline.co.uk and we’ll be more than happy to help.

John

Head of cool things at Office Furniture
Bit of this, bit of that but love cats.

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Author: John