Are File Cabinets Fireproof?

One of the most important aspects of any office is file management. File cabinets are appropriate in this instance.

File cabinets can help you keep your file management system organized and enhance and expand the scope of your work.

I checked over my home office setup and saw that it lacked a proper framework. It was at that time. I considered purchasing file cabinets.

However, when I made the purchase, I had a lot of questions about the file cabinets.

In my home office, I have many cables as every home office has. This made me think. How likely is it that my file cabinet will catch fire? Are they fire-resistant?

With my actual research and personal experience. Today, I am here to assist you with any questions regarding file cabinets and the risk of them catching fire.

Normal file cabinets made up of steel and metals are not fireproof. Even though it will not melt, fire can destroy and weaken it, resulting in data loss. File cabinets are also made from wood and oak, these substances react with the fire quickly, causing more damage compared to their metal and steel counterparts. In addition, there are a lot of fire-resistant filing cabinets available currently. 

Although, our normal file cabinets are not fireproof. There are different file cabinets and different file drawers that are fire-resistant.

And also, there are several ways you could use your standard filing cabinets without any fire risks. So, let’s have a look at everything in detail.

File Cabinets Types and Their Use

When it comes to organizing your office setup, file cabinets are convenient. Despite digital media booming all around, and gathering of files has become minimum. File cabinets are for proper safety in files.

Moreover, there are different types of file cabinets with distinct features. Therefore, one should always choose the best one for their home office setup to avoid unnecessary area consumption and requirement.

Some of the types of file cabinets are:

Types of file cabinetsFeatures
Lateral file cabinetsWider in Size 32 inches-36 inches wide.
Consumes more space as it consists of two to seven drawers.
Holds paper of every type and size.
Vertical file cabinetsVertical and consume less space 15 inches-20 inches wide.
Consists of two to four drawers.
Appropriate for home office.
Mobile file cabinetsPortable
User-friendly and easy to transfer from one place to another
Consists of one to two drawers.
Flat file storage cabinetsWider in size
Easy to store large papers, blueprints, artworks, maps, etc.
Side tab filing system cabinetsStrongly built and hold a large amount of documents.
Come without doors
Mostly used in medicals
Card file storage cabinetsThis cabinets are made to hold cards of a specified size, such as 3 inches x5 inches and 4 inches x6 inches index cards.
Mostly used in library
Fireproof file cabinetsHeavier than normal file cabinets
Protect documents from fire for a certain amount of time.
Pedestal file cabinetsCubical in shape
Consume less space.
Can be fit even under a desk.
Rolling file cabinetsSize similar pedestal cabinets.
Consists of wheels at the bottom
These cabinets can be easily transferred from one place to another.
Tambour door fileConsists of side door that folds to storage unit.
Three to seven drawers tambour door file cabinets are found.

Fireproof File Cabinets

Fireproof file cabinets could be one of the best options for getting safe from fire. Though it isn’t 100% fire-resistant, as we stated earlier, one can get notable benefits from fireproof file cabinets compared to a regular one.

Most fireproof file cabinets protect your file from up to 1700 degrees of heat for a certain amount of time.

A fireproof file cabinet comprises special enclosed compartments filled with fiberglass (a thin, very water-absorbent clay component). To make a file cabinets industry uses fire-resistant metals, special techniques, and fire-resistant insulators.

Fireproof File Cabinet
Fireproof File Cabinet (Source: Amazon)

A layer of non-flammable insulators is used in fire-resistant drawers to keep the temperature within the cabinet as low as possible.

This gives interior cabinets more time to catch fire. As a result, documents get longer protection.

Furthermore, if the fire is not put out quickly enough, the fire may burn your document inside.

Ways to Know if Filing Cabinet is Fireproof

To determine whether a filing cabinet is fireproof, one should consider the following factors:

1. UL Fireproof Ratings

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a non-profit organization that evaluates product quality.

For example, the file cabinets get a UL rating on how effective and safe they are from fire. You can see all of the UL ratings in the table below:

UL Ratings Functions of file cabinets in these classesWhat does it protects?
UL Class 350-1 hourInternal temperature will not exceed more than 350° for at least 1 hour if external temperature is over 1700°.Paper Documents
UL Class 350-2 hourInternal temperature will not exceed more than 350° for at least 2 hours if external temperature is over 1700°.Paper Documents
UL Class 125-1 hourInternal temperature will not exceed more than 125° for at least 1 hour if external temperature is over 1700°. The humidity level will not exceed 80%.Designed to keep digital media safe.
UL Class 125-1 hourInternal temperature will not exceed more than 125° for at least 2 hours if external temperature is over 1700°. The humidity level will not exceedDesigned to keep digital media safe.
UL Class 125-3 hourInternal temperature will not exceed more than 125° for at least 3 hours if external temperature is over 1700°. The humidity level will not exceedDesigned to keep digital media safe.

2. Avoiding Poor Insulators

Different materials like wood, oak are highly reactive with fire. Materials like steel and metals are also bad insulators.

So, to know whether or not file cabinets are fireproof, one needs to find out the which materials the file cabinets are made of.

One should always use file cabinets that consist of inflammable insulators.

What Makes a File Cabinet Fireproof?

The fact that what manufacturer uses to make filing cabinets make a file cabinets fireproof. A normal file cabinet that consists of combustible insulators is mostly reactive by fire.

So fireproof manufacturers surround those poor insulators with layers of the good insulators of fire to make those file drawers.

Most industry uses sealed chambers filled with minerals used for insulation. This protects cabinets to fill up by a fire.

Despite the increase in outer temperature, the minerals used in insulation melt into water and vapor. Hence, chambers absorb heat keeping documents cool.

Some of them even make them using the only non-combustible insulators.

Are Fireproof File Cabinets Worth it?

The investment in fireproof file cabinets is worth it. Fireproof file cabinets keep your file, documents, media safer.

In addition, highly rated fireproof file cabinets are more useful as they protect your documents from high degree heat.

However, most people may often avoid investing in this file cabinet, focusing on their costs. This is because fireproof file cabinets are quite expensive compared to regular ones.

The materials used make their costs high compared to regular ones.  Although one can easily manage documents in normal file cabinets, fire-resistant file cabinets will always be handy and more useful than regular ones.

A small degree of heat could burn all your documents from normal file drawers. However, fire-resistant cabinets could hold up to 1700 degrees of heat. Hence, they are definitely worth it.

Are Metals and Steel File Cabinets Fireproof?

Metals and steel file cabinets are not fireproof. One can even argue steel is an alloy that is non-flammable, but the fire still weakens the steel.

Metal even melts from the fire. Hence they couldn’t be considered fireproof.

Different metals like aluminum, iron won’t burn apart like normal wood or oak. But a high degree of heat from the fire will destroy and weaken it. Some metals will even melt from a certain degree of temperature.

When it comes to steel, its feature is similar to metals like iron. However, they won’t melt from fire. But, fire with more than 1700 degrees won’t preserve the file drawers and documents inside them.

Lastly, Metals and steel specially developed by the company or even insulated with fireproof chambers will protect your documents for certain intervals.

On the other hand, normal metals and steel will not last long from fire and will completely burn off your file.

Weight of Fireproof File Cabinet

Fireproof file cabinets are often heavy than regular ones. In general, these cabinets weigh up to 800lbs empty and 1400lbs full.

In the case of normal four-drawer file drawers, it weighs somewhere from 440 pounds to 700 pounds.

Because of their built-in features, fireproof file drawers are quite heavy. Furthermore, the weight of these cabinets strongly depends upon the industry and the size requirement.

One should always consider the number of drawers they will use and the files they will store. The file cabinet can be heavy and will fill a lot of your home office area.

Related article: A Complete Guide About Lateral File Cabinets Sizes

Cost of Fireproof File Cabinets

Fireproof file cabinets are costlier than regular ones. The cost of fireproof cabinets depends upon three main factors.

Industry, materials used, and UL ratings. Some of the costs of the best fireproof file cabinets are mentioned in the table below:

Fireproof file cabinetsSpecificationsCost
Fireking Turtle Fireproof File Cabinet4 drawers
52.75" H x 17.75" W x 22.13" D
Fireking Turtle One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet2 drawers$899.00
Sentrysafe Fireproof Box with Key Lock 0.61 Cubic Feet, BlackSingle drawer$267.59
FireKing Patriot 2P1825-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet2 drawers Letter/legal
18" W x 25" D
FireKing Patriot 4P1825-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet4 drawers Letter/legal
18" W x 25" D
FireKing Patriot 2P1831-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinets2 drawers Letter
18" W x 31" D
FireKing Patriot 4P1831-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet4 drawers letter
18" W x 31" D
FireKing Patriot 2P2131-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet2 drawers legal
21" W x 31" D
FireKing Patriot 4P2131-CBL One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet, 21" W x 31" D4 drawers legal$2017.51

You can find all of these file cabinets on Amazon. Do check Fireking file cabinets on Amazon.

You could even check on the Fireking website for the best file cabinets.

Should you Get Fireproof File Cabinets for your Home Office?

It would be best if you got fireproof file cabinets for your home office. Because different file documents may be valuable in your home office and may not be monitored by other people like in your office.

Hence, fireproof file drawers will help you from losing valuable documents.

Most people may be concerned regarding the weight and wider space of fire-resistant cabinets. But for optimum safety and protection of documents, fireproof file drawers are handy.

If your home office is small and has limited space, you could always choose one-two drawers cabinets.

People working in a home office will have fewer documents than in an office, so cabinets of small size will completely fulfill their needs.

Are you more space-conscious regarding your home office and want to fit all your office accessories properly?

Then, do check our post Average size for a home office  For proper space guide for home office.

Final Takeaway

File cabinets are an integral part of our home office setup. Due to their huge benefit of file safety and protection, every home office should have file drawers that fit the home office.

Fireproof cabinets are needed in-home office setup mostly to prevent fire and are well-built. Some of them even protect from theft.

Although, normal file cabinets can be as handy as fireproof variants. However, if your valuable documents are caught in a fire, fire will ruin them.

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