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Five Rules For Investing In A Fireproof Safe Or Cabinet

Insurance Safes Ireland

Five Rules For Investing In A Fireproof Safe Or Cabinet

Ensure You Have Certified Fire Protection While Avoiding The Danger Of Asbestos.

Data safes and fireproof cabinets are of increasing relevance particularly since the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation which imposes heavy fines if data relevant to individuals isn't adequately protected. This means when deciding on a fire cabinet, fire safe or fire resistant strongroom to protect paper documents or data against fire, considerations such as certification, burglary protection and audited access control can be essential. Avoiding addressing these issues professionally can now be a very costly and embarrassing mistake. For home office use many of the same issues can apply.

As well as the highest levels of burglary protection, Certified Safes Ireland™ provide fire protection options of all sizes for paper and magnetic data to accredited certified European standards, that include a 9-meter drop test after furnace testing. These accredited European fire test standards far exceed the fire resistance requirements of Swedish NT017 standards which are common in many safes due to a less strict testing, application and surveillance regime that does not include drop testing, multiple size testing or market surveillance.

  • Crucially, accredited European certification is proof of standard for insurance, GDPR and litigation purposes which can make all the difference in a worst-case scenario.

1. Buying Second-Hand Can Be Very Dangerous


Without a doubt the vast majority of second hand safes on the market today are not fit for purpose and many can even be highly dangerous. This is especially true for data safes, fire safes and fire cabinets as the use of asbestos was still widespread as a fire retardant less than 30 years ago. Many such units have been "refurbished" and found their way back into circulation from dealers and classified ads. If you are offered a safe, data safe of fire safe that has no certification badge or that is marked as having been manufactured before the year 2000 (Asbestos ban in Ireland) the person offering you the safe is breaking the law unless they have proof from the manufacturer that the unit in question does not contain asbestos.

Due to the huge numbers of second hand safes for sale in Ireland that contain asbestos, the Health And Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) issued a Legislation & Enforcement notice entitled “Asbestos Risks In Safes And Fire-Resistant Cabinets” on the 21st of October 2019.

This Legislation & Enforcement notice covers all safes, fire cabinets or vaults manufactured before the year 2000.

The new HSA notice states:

  • The EU-wide ban on the marketing and sale of asbestos-containing products applies to second-hand or refurbished safes and cabinets that contain or are presumed to contain asbestos.”
  • Where the asbestos-free status of a pre-2000 safe or cabinet cannot be established or is uncertain, it must be presumed to contain asbestos.”

pdf download HSA Enforcement Notice

This of course includes hundreds of pre-2000 safes listed on the Association Of Insurance Surveyors UK (AIS) list that have been promoted as “appropriate for use in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Eire“. (AIS list 2015 - verbatim quote)

The easiest way to avoid the risk of dangerous asbestos exposure and defective equipment entirely is to ensure that the safe you are buying was manufactured after 2000, is from a reputable source and has been properly certified by an accredited certification body.


2. Identify What Type Of Data Needs To Be Protected


Paper, magnetic data, hard-drives, USB drives and laptops all have different degradation parameters in a fire. These degradation parameters need to be quantified and addressed by the chosen data safe, data cabinet or fireproof filing cabinet solution. This is an area where properly qualified expert advice is required.

data safes and cabinets


3. Ensure The Risk Of Burglary Has Been Addressed


The risk of fire is the first thing most people think of when they look at protecting physical data but burglary is another major risk that needs to be countered that in reality, is statistically more likely than a fire. A burglary may not have data as its target but in many cases files, USB sticks and laptops will be removed. For sensitive files and files covered by the GDPR, make sure that the secure storage you choose is has properly accredited European certification for fire, burglary and has been properly anchored against removal.


4. Documentation And Certification Is Important


Always look for accredited European certification. Accredited European certification is verifiable assurance that a safe, fire safe or data cabinet has been tested and certified under European law. This is proof of standard for insurance, GDPR and litigation purposes. 

The European standard for safes is EN1143-1, fire resistance is EN15659 and fire resistance for data is EN1047-1Get a certification document for your safe, fire safe or data cabinet and look for ISO/IEC17065 accreditation on the document and on the safe’s certification plates, which can be located on the inside of the safe’s door. These will always be stamped metal plates, never a sticker. All plates will clearly state the European certification standard and the name of the accredited certification body, ECB-SVDSCNPP or SBSC.

vds certification logo essa certification logo a2p certification logo SBSC certification logo

VDS badge


5. Know Who You Are Talking To


The secure storage business has for a long time been an extremely attractive opportunity for criminals and fraudsters. Even today there are well known suppliers of secure storage advertising in the media, on the internet or at exhibitions who have associated with criminals or served time in jail. Many continue to have no reservations in mislabelling products, making fraudulent security claims, selling “refurbished” safes that contain asbestos or counterfeiting and making certification claims that have no basis in reality. Needless to say, we recommend that before you engage a safe supplier that you do a quick check into the background, credentials, and experience of who you may be buying from, divulging information to, or letting into your home or business. 

Thankfully, the internet has made it extremely easy to do a quick search using the name of your supplier and checking the background of the individual or business you are dealing with. Always remember when making your assessment, facts are what is important. Press articles or "experience" mean extraordinarily little. Look for verified qualifications and a knowledge of European standards, something an honest safe supplier should be able to demonstrate. 


European Standards EN1047-1, EN1047-2 and EN15659


essa certification logo vds certification logo

Protection class quality characteristic for fireproof protection
European Standards EN1047-1, EN1047-2 and EN15659

Protection classes of products for the protection of data and systems
Product Protection class Certification
Light fireproof unit LFS 30 P EN 15659
LFS 60 P EN 15659
Data cabinet S 60 P EN 1047-1
S 120 P EN 1047-1
S 60 D EN 1047-1
S 120 D EN 1047-1
S 60 DIS EN 1047-1
S 120 DIS EN 1047-1
Diskette insert DI 60 P/DIS EN 1047-1
DI 120 P/DIS EN 1047-1
Data container C 60 D EN 1047-2
Data room R 60 D
Type A
EN 1047-2
R 60 D
Type B
EN 1047-2

The abbreviations in the table stand for:

  • Fireproof - Light fireproof storage unit to EN 15659
  • S  - Data cabinet to EN 1047-1
  • DI - Diskette insert for installation into a data cabinet of protection class S 60 P and S 120 P
  • C - Data container to EN 1047-2
  • R - Data room to EN 1047-2
  • 30 - Exposure to flames for 30 minutes
  • 60 - Exposure to flames for 60 minutes
  • 120 - Exposure to flames for 120 minutes
  • P - Suited for heat sensitive paper documents with stress limits up to 170°C
  • D - Suited for heat and humidity sensitive data media with stress limits up to 70°C and 85% air humidity
  • DIS - Suited for heat and humidity sensitive data media with stress limits up to 50°C and 85% air humidity

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