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Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

Occasional Visitor

Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

As part of our quality system, I have been asked to look at disaster recovery. This got me thinking about our backup tapes.

They are held onsite, in a fire proofed safe which is great. The actual tapes will also withstand fire for some time within our safe. I was wondering however about the actual plastic cases that they come with.

I have searched EVERYWHERE for this information on the web, but to no avail. Other than the obvious "well its plastic, how long could it last?", i'd like some hard facts on exactly how long we've got.

What's the point in having fire resistant tapes when the cases will melt in a small amount of time! (im assuming).

Does anyone know what HP's stand on this is?

Thanks in advance!
Leif Halvarsson_2
Honored Contributor

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

What kind of tapes do you use (DLT,DDS etc.) ?

Is it the soft plastic case the tape is stored in you ask about (not the tape cartridge itself) ? This case have very poor fire resistance (I think it is PE plastic). Try to cut a small strip of a case and light with a match. It catch fire immidiate.
Occasional Visitor

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

Thanks for your reply!

Yes, i'm referring to the actual plastic case, not the cartridge itself.

I know it seems like an obvious question, but if I can get a somewhat 'official' line from HP that would be much appreciated.

I'm assuming it's going to be along the lines of, "we do not recommend that tapes are stored in their plastic covers in a fire proof safe...."

Thanks again!
A. Clay Stephenson
Acclaimed Contributor

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

You are asking the fundamentally wrong question. Long before the plastic case has melted the integrity of the data has been compromised. WARNING: A Fire-proof safe is NOT a media-safe. Typical "Fire-Proof" safes will not exceed an interior temperature of 350F when exposed to 1700F exterior termpratures for 1 hour. This will protect documents but your media is literally toast. Typical media safes will not exceed 115F under the same conditions and are often implemented as a safe within a safe. A media safe must also meet humidity specifications as well. You really need to determine the maximum storage temperature and humidity limits for you media and then determine if your safe meets them.

If you want a "real" answer to your question then a thermometer, a sample box, and a conventional oven should be all you need. In any event, long before that, your data is degraded.

If it ain't broke, I can fix that.

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

Nuts on the whole bunch of answers.

(1) Any actual supplier of tape will be happy to provide the spec. For instance IBM spec is in GA32-0216-00. To wit: Flammability The materials used in the external cartridge covers must have a flammability rating
of at least 94V-2 as described in the Underwriters Laboratory UL94 Standard for
Safety-Test for Flammability of Plastic Materials.

(2) About the safe. Look at UL 125 for ratings and what they mean. Take nothing less than a UL rating. Words from chat rooms don't couont!

Peter Brewstter
Occasional Visitor

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

We found that a better approach was to use an approved data storage firm.
Michael Steele_2
Honored Contributor

Re: Fire Resistance of Tape Cases

Also researched this a few years ago and at that time no tape could survive the heat from a fire. Intact or not I don't think the data on the tape would be readable.

(* Tape media is akin to photographic film and both will perish over time from heat and oxidation. They rust. *)

Consequently I got a safe deposit box from the local bank and put my tapes in there.

HP's offical statement will be that they are not responsible for any of the data on the tape.

I would have another talk your safe salesmen and local fire marshall for verification. Your local fire marshall deals with this issue all the time.
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