Vaulting Issues

Massachusetts Vault Requirements

Historic Documents

For town and county governments in Massachusetts it is possible to receive funding from the State to acquire a vault that meets the specified protection requirements. The minimum fire protection rating the vault needs to qualify for this financial assistance is Class 350-Six Hour/125-Two Hour. That means the interior temperature must remain below 350°F. for at least six hours (to protect paper documents) and below 125°F. for at least two hours (for digital media) even if the exterior temperature reaches 2,000°F. Firelock® manufactures and installs vaults that are capable of meeting these strict performance requirements. As a result, dozens of government offices across Massachusetts protect their historic and mission critical records with our vaults.

Expansion and Relocation

Two issues that record custodians often face is keeping up with space requirements and relocating their offices. One of the advantages of the modular design of Firelock® vaults is they can be expanded or relocated as needed.

Data Tapes

The growth of the population of a community often results in the need for more space to store and protect the increasing volume of vital records. A modular vault constructed with a panel system can be expanded to grow with your record storage needs. This means you don't have to acquire a vault large enough to accommodate your projected distant-future space requirements — just what you need for the near-future. When the need arises, we supply the new panels and install them to enlarge the existing vault.

It's not uncommon for a local government office to move to a new location when they get the funding to construct a new municipal or county building. When this happens, what becomes of the record storage area? Aside from the inability to protect fragile historic documents and heat-sensitive media, a poured-in-place concrete vault can't move with you when the time comes to relocate. The ability to disassemble the vault at the old location and reassemble it at the new facility is another benefit of FIRELOCK's modular vault design.

Climate Control Issues

One of the challenges facing town clerks and other record custodians is how to provide the optimum storage environment for historic documents, microfilm, magnetic media and other climate-sensitive materials. Unlike concrete and masonry constructed vaults, which wick moisture into the chamber and increase the humidity inside, Firelock® panels utilize dry ceramic fiber to achieve the required fire protection ratings. A beneficial by-product of this ceramic fiber insulation is the R-33 rating for the panels. With this energy-saving insulation rating and the integral vapor barrier built into each panel to keep out humidity, it is much more economical to climate control a Firelock® vault than traditional vaults.

Historic Maps

Most vaults will need some type of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system to control the temperature and humidity inside, but this can be a potential weak point in the vault where heat and smoke could enter. That is why Firelock® vaults utilize insulated three-stage damper assemblies to bring ducted air into the vault chamber, or insulated coolant lines for split HVAC systems. At Firelock® we take the approach that "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" when constructing a fireproof vault, which is reflected in the specialized components that are used to ensure the survival of vital records and historic artifacts, even if a worst-case-scenario event occurs.


Because these vaults are constructed with a modular panel system that can be expanded or moved to a new location, they are classified as fixtures rather than part of the building. This means they are eligible to be acquired through leasing arrangements. The typical lease is a five- year term with a $1.00 buyout at the end of the term. This way the vault is installed right away but the cost of the vault can be spread out over five years.

Back to Top