Traditional filing cabinets are not fireproof. Since most are made from steel, they are terrible insulators. Luckily, there are fire-resistant file cabinet alternatives. These options have a layer of inflammable material between the walls, which help insulate and slow down internal rising temperatures.
Ultimately, the cabinet will get too hot and lead to combustion. Fireproof cabinets stall as you find ways to put out the fire.
If the filing cabinet is for storing important documents, you will have to go the extra mile to ensure you protect them from fires. Before purchasing a file cabinet, it is vital to check the heat levels it can resist. On top of that, the amount of time it takes before the contents burn completely matters. Another feature is individual drawer protection. Even if one is left open, the others will remain safe.
If you need a safe place to store valuable paperwork such as wills, passports, marriage certificates, a small amount of cash, and valuables from fire damage, then a fireproof file cabinet will work great.
Are filing cabinets waterproof?
Not all file cabinets have water-resistant seals. In a fire, the heat and smoke will trigger the sprinklers (if any) to switch on automatically. It is one thing to protect your files from fire, only for them to get destroyed by water. Waterproofing is necessary on top of fireproofing to keep your important documents safe and dry.
It is expected that some moisture might seep in. However, the best filing cabinets keep most of the water out and prevent adverse damage. Even if the cabinet is submerged in water, the cabinet should remain water resistant. Some brands can withstand being submerged in up to eight inches of water for 24 hours. Others can only be resistant to sprinkler and hose damage.
The waterproof feature does not work as efficiently with non-metal file cabinets. However, if you prefer file cabinets made from other materials, go for those made from white oak. White oak is a durable hardwood that is impervious to water. It does not absorb water, is resistant to moisture, and does not warp. These features would make it perfect for a waterproof file cabinet.
Can metal and steel cabinets burn?
Metal and steel cabinets cannot burn. However, they are perfect conductors of heat and will act like incinerators in case of a fire. The files inside will ultimately ignite and burn completely.
Unless you get a fireproof file cabinet, traditional steel and metal filing cabinets are a shell. They have no additional material to help resist the effects of a fire. Although the cabinet itself cannot burn, your documents will.
Most galvanized steel file cabinets are made of 18-gauge steel. This material makes them durable but does nothing for protection against fires. In reality, no file cabinets are fireproof. They are fire-rated. This means that they can withstand fire damage for a certain period. After that, your files will catch fire and burn to ashes if nothing is done to salvage the situation.
Temperatures on the outside of a steel cabinet determine those inside the file cabinet. If it is hot outside, it will be just as hot inside.
What are fireproof file cabinets made of?
Fireproof cabinets are made with inflammable material between the walls. Some brands fill these special encapsulated spaces with vermiculite, which is a lightweight clay mineral. This material is also highly water absorbent. In case of a fire, the vermiculite melts into water. It then turns into steam, absorbing the heat and keeping the files in the cabinet cool.
Companies reinforce the insulating materials with strong metals and strict welding techniques. Most fireproof cabinets are UL (Underwriters Laboratories) classified. That means they are certified to withstand heat up to a specific degree for a certain period. UL certification happens in classes.
The UL Class 350 1-hour and UL Class 350 2-hour can withstand external temperatures 1700˚F and up to 350˚F internally for at least one and two hours respectively. These file cabinet classes are perfect for storing paper documents and are mostly made of stainless steel, cast iron or aluminum. Cabinets made from oak have a burning point of about 572˚F.
The best fireproof cabinets in the market can withstand up to two hours of scorching temperatures. That period is adequate time to try to put out the fire. The downside is that these file cabinets are heavier than the standard steel cabinet. They are more challenging to move around or transport because of the material responsible for insulation.
Best fireproof file cabinets
There are several brands of file cabinets in the market. Selecting the most affordable one with fireproof and possibly waterproof features can be daunting. The following brands are a cut above the rest and have wonderful features. They may cost a bit more than standard cabinets, but they are sure to keep your files safe.
These filing cabinets are appropriate for home and office use. They have locking features for enhanced security and can accommodate letter-size hanging files, convenient for access and organization.
FireKing Patriot 2P1825
The FireKing brand is top on the list of fireproof file cabinets. It has numerous options for customers. Its cabinets use dry insulation, which is better than wet insulation to protect files and documents. The FireKing Patriot is one such example that is famous in the two-drawer category. It is relatively more expensive than most other brands, but it makes up for it through functionality.
The FireKing Patriot goes for approximately $1,124. Unlike most fireproof file cabinets, this one does not look bulky. It looks like an ordinary cabinet. However, its make is still sturdy. Features of this filing cabinet include:
- It is not bulky and looks more streamlined
- The lock feature is smooth and fully functional
- Every drawer has individual insulation, which protects files more
The FireKing Patriot 2P1825 is great but if you are looking for a smaller storage solution, opt for the FireKing Turtle.
Hirsh SOHO Three Drawer File Cabinet
This is a product of Hirsh Industries, famous for home and office storage solutions. The brand has both metal and wooden file cabinets. The SOHO Three Drawer File Cabinet is top on their list. The company aligns the drawers properly, and access is smooth and silent. There are no cranking sounds with this file cabinet.
This cabinet has more storage space, especially for its price. The SOHO Three Drawer File Cabinet goes for around $200. Its features include:
- It has a large storage space
- It is cheaper than most other fireproof file cabinets
- Handles are positioned at the bottom
- Only two of its drawers are lockable
Chubbsafes Fire File Cabinet
Chubbsafes is a renowned manufacturer of vaults and safe deposit boxes. Its Fire File range is a collection of fireproof file cabinets. Chubbsafes is a great brand to trust because it has a strong trademark. The Chubbsafes Fire File cabinet provides security and protection from fires. When compared to the FireKing Patriot, it is lighter in weight.
This file cabinet also has a unique interlocking security system that prevents you from opening two drawers simultaneously. Other features include:
- It has vast storage space
- Each drawer is insulated
- Once a drawer is open, the rest are inaccessible (this prevents tipping over)
- It is lightweight, thus easy to transport and move around
This file cabinet costs approximately $1,743. The price is high, but worth it for this premium product.
There are several uses of these fireproof cabinets. Some people store small amounts of money in there. In case of a fire, the contents in these file cabinets will be safe from heat and smoke damage. Besides, protection from water damage when the sprinklers go on is an added advantage.