When it comes to detail-oriented professions, architecture has to be in the top ten. With all the elements of a building project that must come together seamlessly, it really is an incredible feat of project planning and management to design and build a structure. In addition to the logistics and mechanics of building construction that must be mastered, an architect must adhere to strict building codes in the process. And where do you turn when the client has an unusual requirement, such as a data-rated fireproof vault, that must be integrated into the project? That entails an entirely different set of codes and standards. This is where FIRELOCK can be an extremely valuable resource for architects in this situation.
Because our vaults are designed and constructed to meet NFPA Standard 232 for record media protection and NFPA 75 for electronic equipment protection, we can provide a vault system to satisfy even the most demanding clients. These vaults are certified to achieve Class 125 or Class 350 ratings, depending upon what needs protection, as proven by extensive testing at Intertek Laboratories. These vaults can also be Zone IV seismically rated for earthquake-prone regions. The specifications for our Class 125 and Class 350 vaults are ready to be added to the project documents, so that's another issue that can be removed from the to-do list.
One common error we have seen over the years is architects specifying building products based upon Life Safety standards rather than the more stringent NFPA 232 and 75 standards. Because Life Safety standards focus on how long it takes flames to penetrate a barrier, and not how much heat is conducted through the structure, they are not viable standards to use for the protection of magnetic media or electronic equipment. For example, using four hour rated multi-layer drywall to build a vault may keep flames from breaching the structure for that duration, but the temperature inside the vault can exceed 125-degrees F. in less than ten minutes. This means any heat-sensitive record media, such as data tapes, would lose their information in a very short time. In contrast, FIRELOCK vaults are built to maintain the interior temperature below the critical 125-degree threshold for at least two hours (up to four hours in larger vaults, see ratings) even if the exterior temperature reaches 2,000-degrees F.! Specifying the wrong design for a critical storage vault could be a huge financial liability to an architecture firm if a disaster strikes and the contents of the vault are destroyed.
All of our vaults are custom designed to fit the needs of each individual client, so there is no need to adapt the surrounding building to conform to standard sizes. In fact, we can design these vaults down to a fraction of an inch, so even if it needs to fit inside an existing room we can maximize the interior space. We do professional CAD drawings for each project, so that is one element of the design that can be outsourced. We also do all structural engineering for each project, with Professional Engineer certification available. Because of the flexibility in the design options for these modular vaults, insulated HVAC penetrations and insulated electric/data cable penetrations can be positioned almost anywhere on the vault walls or roof.
Architects have a lot on their plate with any building project. When a special requirement is involved, such as a fireproof data or document vault, it brings a whole new level of complexity and liability to the project. For those situations, FIRELOCK can make the architect's life a whole lot easier.