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Sound advice for safe storage.

Webster's Dictionary defines a safe as "a place or receptacle to keep articles (as valuables) safe." Seems simple enough, right? But anyone associated with the safe industry knows this is far from the case.

The number of manufacturers and variety of applications can make choosing the right product a confusing and complicated task. Anyone who is thinking about buying a secure container should first become acquainted with the basics of safes and safe design.

The first and most fundamental step in buying a safe is to determine what items are to be protected - money, jewelry, irreplaceable documents, secret documents, guns stamp collections, etc.

Safes are classified into two categories: fire resistant and burglary resistant. What will go into a safe and that item's monetary value will determine the degree of fire resistance, burglary resistance, or what combination of the two is needed to provide adequate protection.

A safe that contains a petty cash fund of $200, for instance, does not need to be as resistant to burglary as one that houses $150,000 in jewelry. An irreplaceable family album may have no market value, but the owner would probably want it to be protected from fire. Similarly, a valuable stamp collection may require both fire and burglary protection.

To help choose the proper safe, several guides are available that summarize labeling requirements set forth by the insurance industry, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), General Services Administration (GSA), and Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS).

Insurance classifications include standards for different types of insurance policies (that is, broad form, mercantile safe, and bank safe), each with specifications relating to the construction of safe doors and walls and the use of one or more combination locks. Ten different ratings are included under the bank safe classifications, six of which are in production.

UL classifications have label ratings for fire resistance and burglary. Fire-resistance standards are determined by length of protection at given temperatures and by certain drop, impact, or explosion testing.

Burglary ratings - for example, TL15 and TRTL30 - are determined by construction and performance requirements, the results of which translate into the rating assigned. As with most security devices, the measure of protection is determined by how long forced entry can be delayed.

In the case of TL15, the reference is to resistance to attack by mechanical or electrical tools (TL) for a net working time of 15 minutes. With TRTL30, the references is to resistance to attack by torch (TR) and mechanical or electrical tools (TL) for a net working time of 30 minutes.

Another rating, TXTL, includes resistance to all the above plus high explosives. In addition, construction requirements also specify the type of combination lock required - that is, Group 2, 1, or IR.

GSA-approved classifications provide federal specifications (AA-F-358F) for filing cabinets as well as for security containers - steel, legal-and letter-size, and insulated and noninsulated.

There are six GSA classes. They are determined by a combination of defense from surreptitious entry, forced, entry, manipulation, radiological entry, and fire insulation. All GSA containers must be equipped with a UL-rated Group 1 or 1R combination lock capable of resisting manipulation and radiological attack for 20 hours.

Some safes are manufactured abroad and may, therefore, carry Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS), which are similar to UL ratings.

In addition to standard safes and containers covered by label and ratings systems, two other broad classifications of security containers warrant coverage: vaults and sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIF).

Vaults are generally used by industrial and government facilities that require walk-in containment areas. The most common application is a bank vault, which usually consists of a stainless-steel door installed on a vault cavity.

Doors are typically 7 in. to 18 in. thick and equipped with a variety of locking devices, usually including a series of time locks. Vault doors are subject to many of the same label ratings as conventional safes plus some that are specific to this application.

The number of vault manufacturers is considerably fewer than the number of standard safe manufacturers. Vault manufacturers usually offer a line of complimentary products, such as safe-deposit boxes, ATM equipment, bank drive-up equipment, and bullet-resistant doors and windows. Several manufacturers also produce modular vaults that offer added flexibility in terms of construction, lead time, expansion capabilities, relocation, and space savings.

SCIF construction and maintenance is a highly specialized type of containment used by the government and government contractors that need to store that type of information, which requires extraordinary security safeguards. The specifics of the standards can be found in Defense Intelligence Agency Manual 50-3 and cover specifications, construction, and maintenance for SCIFs.

The impact of electronics and access control devices is seen in the safe market now in several new products. For a number of years a few digital safes have been on the market (both mechanical and electronic) that offer a fair level of security and operational ease suitable for many homes, offices, hotels, and motels.

A new generation of digital combination locks has been introduced recently by several manufacturers and offers a higher level of security as well as additional electronics features. The locks are available as factory-equipped new safes and retrofit kits for existing installations. They come in keypad as well as the spin-dial configuration.

As the paths of safe technology and access control technology merge, several alternatives have become available that allow end users to incorporate safe access routines with such conventional access control reporting features as audit trail, time-and-event, time zones, and alarm-point monitoring. These systems can be stand-alone or incorporated into other access control systems.

When a company begins the task of selecting the right security container for its situation, it needs to be clear on what is to be stored and protected and the value of those items.

Many safes are manufactured with specific purposes in mind, such as cash depository (high-volume cash operations); cash storage; jewelry; valuable documents, including videotapes; insulated file cabinets (for a company's irreplaceable and confidential files); media files (for data storage, such as floppy disks or magnetic tape); and classified documents (as used by the federal government).

A number of resources are available to help a company determine the correct product, label, and classification for its needs. Any manufacturer or local safe and lock shop can get a company started on the path to making a safe selection.

UL Classifications for Ratings Determinations
Fire Resistance Ratings Burglary Ratings
* Length of protection at * Construction requirements
 given temperatures that delay entry
* Drop resistance * Performance requirements
 that delay entry

* Impact resistance

* Explosion resistance
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:safes and vaults
Author:Scheirer, S. Robin
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:The key to meeting government specs.
Next Article:Choosing the correct components.

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