Success Stories

Advanced Records Management Uses FIRELOCK Vaults to Offer New, Improved Levels of Protection in Offsite Media Preservation for Small, Medium and Large Enterprise Businesses

Customer Profile

Advanced Records Management is a locally owned and operated offsite records center in Plymouth, Minnesota. ARM has been providing various records storage services since 1995. The goal at ARM is to create "win-win" partnerships with clients by simply providing accurate and responsive record storage services at a cost-effective rate. ARM is an active member of ARMA (Association of Records Managers and Administrators) as well as BCPA (Business Continuity Planners Association).

Business Requirement

ARM began use of FIRELOCK media vaults in the summer of 2000 when customers started requiring a higher level of protection from the vaults used by their service provider. Customers were concerned about the risk of storing their media in standard concrete and/or cinder block or poured concrete storage facilities, and they required facilities with the Class 125 rating needed to protect media. They were also concerned with declining service standards and retrieval rates being delivered by other service providers.

Organizations with concerns about the inadequacy of facilities operated by their service providers approached ARM to see if a better standard was available. What they found impressed them: the team at ARM led by President Jeff Fronius was knowledgeable, responsive, and made a commitment to establishing a superior vault facility combined with local services and support designed to give organizations a custom experience. In addition to the services, ARM offers media protection using an advanced FIRELOCK media vault chamber with precise humidity and temperature control, Class 125 rating to protect media in the case of major fire events, and secure access control. Organizations store business-critical backup copies of their key data, which are rotated offsite on daily and weekly schedules.

"The team at Advanced Records Management went over the top to deliver what we needed to feel confident that our media were safe, protected and available when we needed them," says Matt Mellenthin, a Sr Lead Tape Librarian for a Fortune 500 company who declined for security reasons to be named in this story. Matt was part of the team that made the switch to ARM services. "We knew that we were protected by FIRELOCK vaults at a level far better than what we had before."

Mellenthin's organization reviewed the levels of service and ARM's business practices by conducting yearly audits and random drop-ins. During these audits, the vault facilities are inspected and tapes are randomly selected for retrieval. "We liked the personal touch that ARM provides, and the accessibility of getting into the vault to see for ourselves how things were being done," says Mellenthin. "The system at ARM has proven to be very easy for us to work with. The retrieval times were dramatically improved over what we had before, and that's critical to any business."

Deli Express, A Leading Supplier to the Convenience Store Industry, Feels Secure with ARM Services Based on FIRELOCK Vaults

The manufacturer of the #1 selling sandwich brand, Deli Express is the leading supplier to the convenience store industry. "FIRELOCK vault technology made the difference for us," says Sheila Laurin, Systems Support Specialist at Deli Express. "The Class 125 protection stood out as being unique. I checked with a lot of other facilities and none of them offered anything like it except ARM. Now I don't have to worry when I hear about fires happening at storage facilities. I know that our media will be safe."

The organization of the ARM vault, coupled with the use of bar code recognition tracking systems, enables lower risk and higher service levels. "At other facilities, I saw paper and media all mixed together," says Laurin. "I was impressed that ARM kept the paper and media separate, and at how fast they are in retrieving tapes when we need them."

The price point that ARM was able to offer was also important to Deli Express. "Being a medium-sized company, we don't have a lot of extra budget to work with," says Laurin. "ARM was able to combine the best state-of-the-art vault facilities that we'd seen with attractive price points which really helped us to justify the move to ARM."

FIRELOCK State-of-the-Art Technology Establishes a New Threshold of Information Asset Protection

FIRELOCK vault technology is key to enabling ARM to provide a higher level of service to its customers. "We are committed to staying on the leading edge of vault technology," says Jeff Fronius, President of Advanced Records Management. "FIRELOCK's automated temperature and humidity control, automated video surveillance system, and Class 125 rating are all fundamental ways that ARM can do a better job for our clients than we could with standard cinderblock vaults. If vault climate conditions fall outside acceptable limits, I get automated notification to my cell phone — which means I can do something about it right away. My clients and I rest easier because of the superior levels of protection afforded by these state-of-the-art FIRELOCK vaults."

ARM provides off-site storage and daily pickup services for over 50 clients in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, including major financial institutions, manufacturers and services organizations. ARM is responsible to protect over 400,000 data cartridges in its Firelock vault. It is not uncommon to rotate over 30,000 tapes in any given month to/from the vault facility. "ARM responds to about two emergency data restore calls per week to retrieve tapes," says Fronius. "Thanks to FIRELOCK vaults, we've never failed to deliver."

ARM also responds to regular audit inspections and telephone checks, including tests to ensure that its security systems are in tact and the computer infrastructure used to monitor FIRELOCK vaults is secure. "The auditor was very impressed during the spot check," says one client. "He said he had never audited a facility as well organized as Advanced Records Management."

Independently Operated, Local Service Providers Provide Better Service Levels

FIRELOCK president, Hugh Smith, believes in the value of enabling an independent network of service providers to operate at the local level. ARM is a member of the FIRELOCK Affinity Network (FAN), a network established, supported and nurtured by the FIRELOCK company.

"Independent, locally-operated vault facilities can be more responsive and secure," says Smith. "Clients trust someone local to do a better job. They know that their media won't get lost in the red tape and odd policies that big organizations sometimes force their regional teams to adopt."

FIRELOCK vaults are exclusively available through the independently-operated FAN companies, and can also be purchased by client organizations needing to establish a secure vault at their own facilities. "We see a trend toward the use of offsite service providers as a business practice for Electronically Stored Information (ESI). This practice, known as "e-vaulting" frequently results in the placement of servers themselves into larger vaults, also requiring the enhanced protection available with a FIRELOCK Vault," says Smith. "Our climate controlled vault technology makes them ready-made to be used as server vaults at off-site disaster recovery centers, and also as part of data center facilities to help avoid disasters from happening."

Modular Fireproof Vaults — Just How Modular Are They?

Recently, a vault 40' x 116' x 12' was disassembled in Tucson, transported to California and reengineered into two vaults 24' x 30' x 20' and with a zone IV seismic rating.

A vault 20' x 33' x 16'8" was disassembled in Nashville and reinstalled in Philadelphia. All of this work was done in a 30-day time frame.

Consider that if these vaults were old-fashioned, poured-in-place concrete, they would have had to be demolished and all value lost. In each case, the move was less expensive than jack-hammering out the old vault.

GreenPoint Bank

The Project

GreenPoint Bank had a large quantity of mortgage records and other legal documents on paper that required a new expandable fire protected vault. Being a successful and expanding financial institution, they also needed a vault that they could relocate to keep up with their growing record archive.

The Solution

A FIRELOCK Class 350-Four Hour Fire Vault gave GreenPoint Bank what they were looking for. The GreenPoint senior officer in charge of this project, Mr. Joseph Passalacqua, said, "We chose FIRELOCK for the combination of the benefits of a modular design with their fire protection capability." Also, "the concept of using ceramic insulation is an innovation that is superior to conventional vault construction methods."

As expected, by 1996, GreenPoint had tripled the volume of their record holdings and outgrew their original office location in the Flushing, NY area. Mr. Passalacqua stated, "We knew we were moving and did not want to build a vault (at the Flushing location) and then leave it behind." They found a larger office complex in Lake Success on Long Island and carefully planned their moving procedure. To protect the vital records at all times, the new expanded FIRELOCK Vault section was shipped to the new site and installed by FIRELOCK's installation crew. After the vital records had been moved and safely stored in the new location, the FIRELOCK installers disassembled the original vault in the Flushing office and transported it to the new Long Island location. The original vault was then reassembled and joined with a new vault section (the new section was designed to precisely match the original vault) to complete the relocation and expansion of GreenPoint's vital records vault. One additional factor concerning increase in the volume of their records is that in the future, some of these records may be converted to magnetic media. The flexibility of the FIRELOCK System will allow them to upgrade their vault to Class 125-One Hour by merely adding an inner door to the vault.

If GreenPoint Bank had built a vault of conventional construction materials like concrete and block, they would have had to leave that vault behind and start from scratch at the new location. This would have been more costly and is not permissible in many leased office facilities. By planning ahead, GreenPoint was able to take their vault with them and keep their vital records protected at all times. Such forward thinking by GreenPoint is what makes them one of the most competitive banks in one of the world's toughest markets: New York, New York

Municipal Record Center

The Project

The Kenai Peninsula Borough record center in Soldotna, Alaska had all of their vital municipal records on microfilm and magnetic media, but they lacked the proper storage facilities. They needed a data rated record vault that was economical to climate control and could be located in the warehouse space adjacent to their paper record storage area. As a growing population center, they also wanted the ability to expand their vault as the volume of their record holdings increased.

The Solution

FIRELOCK designed, manufactured and installed a 12' x 30' x 12' Class 125-Two Hour Data Vault for their record center.

The data rated FIRELOCK Vault is built to meet or exceed all National Fire Protection Association standards, which require data vaults to maintain interior temperatures below 125°F (the temperature at which magnetic media is damaged) for a two hour period with temperatures up to 2,000°F outside the vault.

The heat insulating capabilities also yield an R-33 insulation rating, which makes maintaining long term storage temperatures (65-68°F) very economical. The optimum humidity level (30-40% R.H.) is also easily regulated due to the dry ceramic insulating material within all FIRELOCK panels and the vapor barrier built into each panel.

FIRELOCK Vaults are stand-alone, self-supporting structures (in compliance with NFPA guidelines) that can be constructed on any typical floor. The Kenai vault was in a slab on grade location, but FIRELOCK Vaults can also be located on upper floors without any structural reinforcement. This is due to the lightweight nature of the FIRELOCK ceramic panel system, which is about l/l0th the weight of a conventional construction vault.

The modular design also allows future expansion of the vault as the volume of their records increases. The vault can even be relocated if Kenai Peninsula Borough moves their record center.

In conclusion, the FIRELOCK Class 125-Two Hour Data Vault was the solution to the Kenai Peninsula Borough's record storage problem.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Project

Protect vital historical and medical research records for future generations.

The Solution

FIRELOCK Modular Data Vault with Class 125 Fire Rating and magnetic shielding.

The Department of Energy, which manages all of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has rigid requirements which mandate the preservation and protection of all DOE vital records. Oak Ridge is significant because of its long history in the field of nuclear energy.

In the early days of World War II, America had reason to fear that Germany's discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 might lead to their development of a "super bomb." In response to this threat, the U.S. launched the top-secret, top-priority Manhattan Project. Top scientists such as Enrico Fermi, Alvin Weinberg, Eugene Wigner and Charles Moak were involved in this plan to produce enriched uranium and the pilot-scale production of plutonium. The Graphite Reactor designed for this purpose was soon creating over 600 pounds of irradiated uranium a day, and from this, Oak Ridge's chemists were able to produce the world's first few grams of plutonium.

The Graphite Reactor continued its pioneering ways when it produced the first electricity from nuclear energy. It was also the first reactor used to study the nature of matter and health hazards of radioactivity. It can be said that this research center was the source of mammalian radiation biology. And for years after the war, it was the foremost source of radio-isotopes for medicine, industry and agriculture. Much of the work done to unravel the genetic code could not have been done without these isotopes. These same isotopes are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

In the final analysis, it will be this contribution which may have the largest impact on our present day society.

Much of the research done with these early isotopes as well as all medical records from the Laboratory complex reside in the medical archive vault provided by FIRELOCK.

Alston Hodge of Martin Marietta was responsible for putting together the proposal to the Department of Energy and receiving the necessary approvals to move forward with the overall project. This facility was specially designed by the Martin Marietta in-house design team to meet the needs of this unique archive and data base.

The media rated vault provided by FIRELOCK Modular Vault is capable of providing the Class 125 Fire Rating necessary for sensitive computer media and x-rays. The vault chamber provides precise environmental control to allow media to be stored at 68°F and 30% relative humidity, which is necessary to preserve the records in this chamber in perpetuity. The chamber also provides magnetic shielding due to the close proximity of the medical center and the other types of research taking place on the Laboratory campus.

FIRELOCK would like to thank Alston Hodge for including us in this unique and historic project.

Multinational Fortune 500 Company

The Project

Protect vital records for data processing and the central corporate repository. The Chief Information Officer was in control of 300,000 magnetic media cartridges. The repository was also to include four large StorageTek Silos, which would allow all divisions to have online access to the record library.


A 66' x 60' x 10' FIRELOCK Modular Data Vault with Class 125 Fire Rating and magnetic shielding, which included a special environmental package to insure rigid temperature and humidity control. This vault was also constructed for Zone IV Seismic conditions, which is a standard feature on FIRELOCK products installed in locations in the Pacific Rim.

This vault allowed the corporation to eliminate outside vendor access to their records. This was a top priority due to concerns about espionage of top secret research information and distribution networks. By implementing this four stage program, the necessity for disaster recovery vendors was also eliminated. The payback period on this investment was less than three years.

Trumble County Memorial Hospital


Protect vital medical records for their patients, data processing records for the Chief Information Officer and documents required by the JCAHO.


FIRELOCK Modular Data Vault with Class 125 Fire Rating and magnetic shielding installed adjacent to medical records and the Oncology Department.

Due to new requirements by the JCAHO, hospitals and medical clinics are required to protect vital records from destruction and tampering, ensure confidentiality and restrict access. Due to the stringent audit procedures performed by the JCAHO and its representatives, hospitals are mandated to provide absolute protection for their records.

It is critical that medical organizations insure confidentiality as disclosure of records can result in cancelled health insurance and life insurance. In some cases, banks have refused loans to clients who suffer from cancer, heart disease or AIDS. This medical redlining would reflect negatively on the health organization for negligently allowing disclosure.

Vaulted patient records are unavailable to hackers and saboteurs who prey on the medical industry, and insure against the records being destroyed in a catastrophic fire.

Back to Top