special document cases as precaution measures for water damage from sprinklers

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    • #132453
      Charlene Martin

      I apologize for asking so many questions, and I hope I haven’t pushed my luck. This has been such a great place to ask all sorts of questions 🙂


      My institution is renovating the interior of our building to match our museum and archive needs. Since I am suggesting a mist sprinkler system, I wonder if I should protect my archival and museum collection from possible overhead water damage by using document cases made of either polypropylene or covered in polyester film laminate w/acrylic adhesive (Gaylord).


      Has anyone had experience using these? Do I even need to worry about the eventuality of my sprinkler system going off – maybe I am worrying too much?


      Thank you!



    • #132458

      In my experience even regular archival document cases can shed andblock a significant amount of water before the water penetrates to the documents encased in the box.  The polypropylene or poly laminate coated ones will certain shed more water.  However in my view the potential down sound of these is in a high heat fire could they melt onto the documents causing a bigger headache for restoration.  The water misting sprinkler system is designed to greatly reduce the amount of water released in event of a fire.  You may get some water damage but significantly less supposedly than with conventional wet pipe sprinklers.

      In any event I feel I would rather have to deal with recovery of wet materials than charred or burnt ones.


    • #132457
      Charlene Martin

      As a follow-up to this, my employer has told me we may not be able to afford sprinklers. She mentioned using fire-proof filing cabinets to store archival collections instead of document cases, but the National Park Service does not recommend storing an archival collection in file cabinets.

      My collection in includes letter, legal, and over-sized documents.

      I could really use advice from folks about whether or not fire extinguishers can suffice, if sprinklers are a must, and if archival documents can be safely stored in file cabinets.  Thank you!


    • #132456
      Patricia Miller

      Hi Charlene.  I have a question for you about the mist system. Could you send me an email? I’m at plmxiha@shout.net. Thanks.

      Pat Miller

      Illinois Heritage Association


    • #132455

      I would not recommend use of fire proof cabinets.  In a high heat fire they can become so hot as to disintegrate the contents into ash or very charred documents.  A sprinkler system is your very best, safest, least expensive option.  Consider the value of the irreplaceable documents you are trying to preserve.

    • #132454
      Lyn Triplett

      Always take precautions against fire, as insurance might not assist if you made no effort to protect your items at all. Check the link below for clarification on “fire proof” and “heat-proof” for storage of paper and media. (Films, CD’s, flash drives and so forth) Remember that not all fires are infernos, and that a slightly damaged document is better than one that was destroyed by fire or water. Please store all important documents in a fireproof cabinet, vault, or storage box. There are two different fire ratings and they have been highly tested. Also, call the insurance company and get [in writing] what they recommend to protect documents and verify that you are compliant with them.

      From: Disaster Preparedness Coordinator – Raleigh NC – NC Department of Cultural Resources.

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