Purchasing a waterproof, fireproof safe?
November 19, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Hive mind inquiry: does anyone have experience or advice they can give for the purchase of a waterproof, fireproof safe, big enough to store a few folders of documents?

We're going to need this for my work. I don't have a ton of details, but here's the specs I know:

Contents: two 13"x13"x5", leather-bound library volumes

Fire rating: 2 hours
Interior dimensions: 13 x 13 x 10 minimum (preferably a bit larger)
Water rating: air tight, water tight
Needs to attach permanently to a concrete or other strong structure

I've bought safes in the past, but only large ones for the storage of rifles; don't know much about the process of choosing a small safe, how much a reasonable price would be, what brands are reputable, whether it would be better to go key vs. dial, or what. All responses are appreciated!
posted by Cycloptichorn to Shopping (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Could you put an air and water protective case around the folders and put them in a safe deposit box? Bank safes are (depending on the location) vulnerable to flooding, but tend to have better fire protection and physical security than homes and offices. The obvious advantages are logistical and cost. They are uninsured by default, but from a work perspective it would seem a clear way to show having done your due diligence to protect the documents.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 12:33 PM on November 19, 2013

A few years ago I remember there was an article about waterproof safes being prone to mildew/mold growth inside, since water couldn't get out. That would be something to look into when you're evaluating models, and maybe also you would want to institute a protocol of opening the safe and airing out the documents every so often.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2013

Note that you can't use plastic bags or containers to make a non-waterproof fire safe waterproof. A fireproof document safe can hit 350 F under rated fire conditions. Fire burns, plastic melts, then the firemen hose it down and your documents get wet.

You might look at data safes, which are going to be both waterproof and much cooler in a fire.
posted by ryanrs at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2013

Discloser: work link.

I helped gather data for a safe comparison tool a few years ago. The site isn't updated or in use anymore, but it may help give you an idea of price ranges. These are safes from Best Buy, Kmart, and Target.

Here's a list of ones that may be well suited to your needs.
posted by amicamentis at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2013

Yeah, data safes are going to be more in line with what you're after. You might also consider putting the contents into a watertight mil-spec Pelican case for extra security against water leakage. That adds an extra step to the (daily?) storage and retrieval routine, though.

Another thing to consider is where the safe will be located. One of the ways fire safes fail is by falling when the floor burns out beneath them. What may normally be a sturdy safe can turn to a twisted (and opened) pile of rubble after falling 10 feet or more. If the safe breaks open from a fall, it won't matter how well-sealed it was, your contents are now exposed.
posted by xedrik at 2:39 PM on November 19, 2013

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