Fireproofing questions

From: Richard Erlacher <>
Date: Mon Nov 15 20:00:38 1999

The cabinet you obtained may indeed be fireproof. That means that you can
safely store your irreplaceable documents, e.g. your rich uncle's will, your
birth certificate, your early computer schematics and service documents, and
rely on their remaining intact while the car and remainder of your garage go
up in flames. However, I would not recommend it for irreplaceable media
which cannot tolerate high temperature.

Fireproof generally means that fire on the outside will stay on the outside,
while fire on the inside will, likewise, stay on the inside. Clearly
there's cause for wanting one or both in many cases.

If you want safe, fireproof storage in the sense that your mag media and
other thermally sensitive materials will survive, I'd recommend a welded
aluminum cabinet which you bury in your back yard with access from the top,
perhaps covered by a cinder paving block or even a pallet or two with a
utility shed over the top. You could park your lawnmower over it with
little ill effect. Even a fire in the gasoline or paint you store there
won't damage the contents of the vault. Its contents should remain both
cool and dry, and you can have access whenever the situation demands. It
might be a good idea to store units of mag media in zip-loc freezer bags
with some form of dessicant so as to avoid condensation of water which will
lead to mold or mildew. Such an arrangement would be ideal for off-site
secure storage of backups.

The most convenient such application, using the area under a utility shed,
that I've seen was a small chest freezer. So long as the opening is above
the worst-case water line, a freezer or old refrigerator might work well.
It's just that they tend to rust. It's very dry most of the time here in
Colorado. A kitchen appliance might not work so well in Florida or
elsewhere where the water table is shallow and the mineral content of the
water is high.


-----Original Message-----
From: Aaron Christopher Finney <>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Monday, November 15, 1999 6:24 PM
Subject: Fireproofing questions

>Hi all,
>I just scored a 6-foot metal, 2-door cabinet that is marked as fireproof.
>I'd like to think it'd be a great place to store classic media, but it's
>not entirely heat-proof. To test it, I placed a hot clothes iron on the
>outer wall and measured the temperature/rate of climb on the inner wall,
>as well as the ambient temperature inside the cabinet. It was enough that,
>even with a comparatively small heat source (well, to a garage fire,
>anyway), anything within a few inches of the inner wall would have most
>definitely been damaged, and possibly items close to the center after a
>half-hour of exposure to the heat source.
>My question is this: is there something anyone could recommend that would
>make a good lining for the inner walls of the cabinet to insulate it from
>heat? Something that doesn't take up too much room (would kind of defeat
>the purpose of having a cabinet to store things in) and would protect the
>interior contents in case of a small fire. I don't think there's anything
>between the inner and outer walls besides air, though I'm not certain.
>Perhaps I could squirt some of that expanding foam in there or something?
Received on Mon Nov 15 1999 - 20:00:38 GMT

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