Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Fireproof Filing Cabinets (But Were Afraid You’d Set on Fire)


When setting up your business, you’ll invariably reach the task of purchasing file cabinets. We’ve already addressed the , and now it’s time to take a look at what a fireproof cabinet can and should do for your business’ documents and media.

What they do

The overall expectation of fireproof file cabinets is to protect your business’ most valuable assets like purchase orders, customer mailing lists, billing records, warranties, and policies and procedures from fire, explosion, heat, water, smoke, and high impact falls.

How they work

After reaching a certain temperature, a liquid is emitted, thereby forming an insulation around the contents of the file.

Which one do I need?

The key to finding the right fireproof filing cabinet for your needs is to check its UL rating. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit, highly trusted testing facility that puts products through rigorous assessments before issuing its approval and/or rating level. (You’ve no doubt seen UL ratings on electrical items as well).

Underwriters Laboratories uses three main classifications for records protection equipment (file cabinets, safes, etc):

  1. Class 350-rated – Protects paper products
  2. Class 150-rated – Protects magnetic tapes and photographic film
  3. Class 125-rated – Protects flexible computer disks

Defining the listings above, the 350, 150 and 125 numbers represent the internal temperature of the cabinet when exposed to external heat of 1700 degrees or higher. Meaning, a 350-rated cabinet will not get any hotter than 350 degrees on the inside for at least one hour when subjected to 1700-degree heat.

For media safes, look for a UL rating of 125, as 125 degrees is the temperature at which digital media is compromised. Tapes, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, microfiche and data cartridges are all examples of media devices that will ruin when the file’s internal temperature reaches 125 degrees or greater.

A UL rating of 125 also guarantees humidity levels to remain below 80% (the level at which digital media suffers damage) and provides protection against weak magnetic fields.

What are the top brands?

Top fireproof filing cabinet brands include FireKing, SentrySafe (formerly Schwab) and Phoenix. Arnolds Office Furniture carries an assortment of these brands in both vertical and lateral styles at most any given time. Check out our selection of in-stock cabinets.

Are they worth the price?

It’s hard to put a price on documents, but taking a moment to calculate how much your customer database and employee records mean to your business should give you your answer. Indeed, fireproof cabinets and safes cost more than traditional models, but your peace of mind and feelings of security are well worth the investment.