As another member of the NFPA 232 Committee, and a long-time Records
Manager, member of ARMA and former Record Center Operator (both private AND
Commercial) I'd like to add some perspective to Hugh's request for input.
I don't know if the public apathy relative to this topic is similar to many
other issues which require input (and at times outrage) from the involved
parties or not.
Is it simply a case of "Well, there's NFPA 232 and it'll always be there"
or "Yeah, I want and need a certain level of protection for my
organization's assets, but someone else will be sure it's there" or is it a
genuine case of no one really thinks there's a challenge being put up
against the protections afforded by NFPA 232??
>One issue that controls the whole dialog on NFPA 232 Protection of
>Records is what you expect from those who store your records?
Maybe this would be better stated as "DO YOU KNOW what you are being
offered by those who store the records entrusted to your responsibility as
Records Managers?" Have you asked the hard questions about the commercial
RC where these records are being stored?
- Are you compliant with NFPA 232 or when do you plan to be?
- What will I be paid if my company's records are destroyed by a fire?
- If my company's records are smoke or water damaged in a fire, how will
they be handled?
- When were your smoke, fire alarms and sprinkler systems last tested, and
can I see a report?
- Who is your insurance provider and what is the limit of liability
assigned to the holdings?
- Who was the fire engineer that inspected this facility prior to and post
occupation of the building?
>Could I please get some direct replies on this. If you wish to post to
>the Listserv that is great too; but some of you feel uncomfortable
>doing that. If so send it to me and I will take a copy with me to
>future meetings where we discuss what is expected of offsite records
And if you don't want to respond to Hugh or the List, you could also
respond to Bill Benedon ([log in to unmask]) or Diane Carlisle
([log in to unmask]) or me ([log in to unmask]) all of which are also members
of the NFPA 232 Committee and are devoting considerable effort to this work
simply because we are concerned about the level of protection being
provided to records stored in commercial facilities, and ensuring they are
not assigned the lower level of protection afforded to commodities or worse.
>I have personally invested hundreds of hours in meetings, follow up,
>research, dialog as well as $2,500 or so in air fare, hotel, rental
>cars to travel to Washington, D.C. , Phoenix, Siddona, Baltimore,
>Phoenix, Las Vegas, and now I need to go to Tempe for yet another
>meeting on this.
Hugh brings up an important point here. As a private business operator,
his costs are considerable and he will not see any benefit to his business
form supporting this issue. To the contrary, if commercial record centers
come into line with the requirements of this Standard, there may be an even
lesser desire form others to seek the additional protection provided by
vaults in all but cases of protection of vital assets, electronic media and
other items requiring protection far above and beyond that afforded by NFPA
Bill is another private business person who is not reimbursed for his
efforts to support this Standard, and Diane's efforts, although reimbursed
by ARMA, are on behalf of the members of the profession who are charged
with the responsibility of providing care for and managing the information
assets of the firms by whom they are employed. My employer sees a great
benefit to ensuring Standards exist for the appropriate care and protection
of records and is willing to fund my efforts to continually evaluate and
support the levels of protection being provided to records.
On the opposite side of the equation, there are a number of individuals who
derive their income from the design, construction, providing equipment for
and the operation of facilities responsible for housing these records that
are in strict opposition to complying with the existing requirements of the
Standard and are attempting to weaken the levels of protection
required. Their arguments are the requirements are "arbitrary and
capricious" and "are not supported by scientific testing" yet when the
Standard was revised from it's 1995 version to the current 2000 version to
include these requirements (some of which were extrapolations from figures
included in Guideline NFPA 232A, which was incorporated into NFPA 232)
there were no arguments made against it and insufficient opposition to the
Since this time, efforts have been made to change the makeup of the
Committee and challenges have been raised against the Standard, yet no one
who is challenging it has openly stated what their motivation for these
changes is. They haven't been open and stated that it would require them
to make substantial changes to their facilities which are NOT in
compliance with existing Standards and that their interests are motivated
much more by the protection of the bottom line than the protection of
records. Why else would they mount a campaign to slip cycle the normal 5
year revision period to 2 years and have all of their voting block (AND
non-voting alternates) attend EVERY meeting (at considerable cost) with an
agenda focused solely on the elimination of the additional protections
provided by establishing maximum compartment sizes? This block of voters
has yet to bring forward ONE ITEM for the Committee to consider which is
related to the "Protection of Records", which is what the Standard is
>I need to know............What is the role of offsite storage of
WE ALL NEED TO KNOW THIS... and we need to inform the off site record
storage providers what WE WANT THEIR ROLE TO BE.
Keep in mind NO ONE IS REQUIRED to comply with this Standard, they ALL HAVE
THE OPTION of simply stating they are not in compliance, and when you shop
for firms to store your organization's records with, you can make the
choice what level of protection you feel most comfortable with. Also keep
in mind that none of the fires that have been mentioned here in the past 5
years which involved the total loss of holdings took place in a
compartmented warehouse built to the Standards in NFPA 232.
I encourage you to respond to this survey and forward your responses to
either the List or any of the individuals listed above.
>When you send records offsite to your records center or to a vendor, do
>you feel that these records deserve protection from possible
>catastrophic destruction or are you sending them off campus to just
>free up real estate?
>Are the records that are sent offsite of value to your organization?
>If they are destroyed or lost will this create expense for your
>Would you try to recreate these records?
>What is the role of offsite records storage?
> Is it just a less expensive piece of real estate to keep records?
> Is it a redundant form of record that backs up your main office so
>that loss at the main office allows recovery by use of the offsite
>records storage copy?
> What percentage of records end up with both the original and the copy
>being stored offsite?
>I would also like to know how many companies have warehouses where the
>size of the record storage compartment is already bigger than 250,000
>boxes of records? (If you don't want to count boxes just calculate the
>size of the storage compartment by multiplying the length times the
>width and then multiply this by the useable height for racking.)
>I want to know how many companies use compartments with less than
>250,000 cubic feet of records?
>In today's environment of terrorism, post Enron/Andersen
>disillusionment with corporate records keeping do you feel a greater
>need to protect records or is management not changing their practices
>with regard to business continuity?
>end of survey
>We are looking for guidance here and I want to know so that these
>service providers can deliver what you expect.
>I also want to know what NFPA 232 should address in future meetings?
>A meeting is scheduled to see if NFPA 232 can be tweaked to provide a
>middle ground in Tempe. Larry Medina has discussed it and asked for
>your help. I also need your help. I need factual information to carry
>to the committee on what you really expect in the way of performance
>from your records centers both in-house and vendor operated.
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