An office fire is something most of us have probably never experienced, nor want to, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. They do. And when you consider the amount of people who come and go in your office each day, the chance of a fire breaking out is much greater than a fire in your home. It makes you think, doesn’t it!
Fire Hazards in the Office
There are many common fire hazards in every office building, both small and large:
Electrical equipment – the office is full of it. PC’s, laptops, projectors, shredders, extension cables, fans and electric heaters. Also, don’t forget kitchen appliances such as kettles, toasters, microwaves and coffee machines. Some larger offices even have gyms now too! Loose wires or faulty electrics are common causes of office fires which is why it’s so important to have office equipment checked and tested on a regular basis. Minimise the risks to make your office as fireproof as possible.
Human Error – perhaps your phone rings and you rush to take the call leaving your soup for lunch bubbling away on the hob for a long time, or you forget to switch an electrical heater off and it overheats causing sparks to fly out onto the carpet. There are any number of simple oversights that could cause an office fire, putting not only your staff at risk, but also your documents, data and everything else around you.
Combustible Materials – these may not be the cause of a fire but they certainly aid the spread of it – piles of paper, product packaging, flammable liquids and aerosols may all be found in the workplace. Office furnishings such as sofas, chairs, desks, cushions, and shelving can also be particularly flammable so a small fire could turn into an inferno in a short space of time.
Fireproof Document Safes and Data Storage Solutions
It’s important to put in place measures to make your office environment as fireproof as possible. Taking simple steps such as switching off all electrical equipment after use, ensuring that equipment is regularly tested and training your staff in fire safety can all help to minimise the risks. But additional steps can be taken to protect the contents of your office in the event of a fire. For example, does your office have fireproof safes or filing cabinets?
Often we think about safes as being used primarily by shops and businesses who deal with large sums of cash but cash isn’t the only important thing that office staff store on their premises – documents and data are present and may be of considerable value.
Consider a solicitor who is privy to the details of someone’s last will and testament or holds the deeds to various properties, or a doctor who holds copies of patients’ medical records or an accountant who stores details of multiple clients’ financial data. All of this information, whether on paper or a data storage device is of high importance to its owner and to the professional who is responsible for providing advice based on the information, and the safe storage of the information. Do you take steps to protect such information from fire and theft?
Features of Fireproof Safes for Documents and Data
Many fireproof safes can withstand high temperatures for up to 120 minutes and protect the safe’s contents from smoke damage. Options for shorter time periods such as 60 and 90 minutes also exist, and fireproof safes can be purchased with additional features that make them a highly recommended asset for protecting your own and your customers’ documents and data from fire damage.
- Fireproof and Waterproof Safes – these often feature water resistant seals as well to provide a waterproof inner compartment for keeping your safe’s contents dry.
- Strength tested – robust fireproof safes are subjected to the ‘drop test’ which tests the impact on the structure and contents of a safe that has fallen from a height, such as through the burning floors of an office, hotel or other tall buildings.
- Locking features – fireproof safes can be fitted with slam shut locking features. These can be beneficial in the event of a fire as documents and data can quickly be deposited and sealed in the safe, allowing an employee to proceed with safely exiting the building. In general, fireproof safes come with multiple locking features including key locks, electronic locks, dual controls, hidden code and scrambled code.
- Burglary protection – often safes will be tested and approved to European standards. Some fireproof safes can also be fixed to the floor to prevent easy removal.
- Casters – alternatively fireproof safes may include casters to enable employees to easily move safes from one location to another within the office. In the event of a fire, it may be possible to wheel a safe out of the building, or move it to a safer location further away from the source of the fire to limit the damage to it whilst the fire is put out.
- Protection against magnetic fields and electrostatic phenomena – conductive materials such as the metals used to make the safe are protected from potential interference from static electricity or magnetic forces that may weaken their defences.
Fireproof Safe Manufacturers
There are many well-known and highly regarded manufacturers of fireproof safes and filing cabinets. These include Burton Safes, Chubb Safes and Phoenix Safes and other lesser known but equally effective solutions from Burg Wachter, Charvat Safes and Securikey, to name a few. Various features come as standard on each model and the prices range from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand. The cost will be impacted on by the size of the safe, its features, the level of testing and approvals it has. The level of protection required within the design may vary from one business owner to another, and their budgets.