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AUSTIN, TX, September 10, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Wildfires are burning all over drought-stricken central Texas, destroying over 1,000 homes so far. These fires have been spread by high winds from Tropical Storm Lee and are moving so fast people barely have time to evacuate. When these fires are finally under control, it's likely that many vital records in municipal and county offices, as well as private businesses, will be lost in the wake of these emergency evacuations from the deadly fires. There are many towns in the path of these out of control fires. Bastrop, New Smithville, La Grange, Giddins, Elgin are burning with no relief in sight. The hill country around Austin is cherished for its cedar and juniper trees, but they burn like gasoline when a wildfire strikes.
Not only will residents have to deal with the loss of homes and personal possessions, many will have to suffer through the bureaucratic nightmare of proving ownership of their property when deeds and other land ownership records are destroyed. Birth, death and marriage records are also at risk when town and county buildings have to be evacuated without time to save all the vital documents and data tapes in the custody of these authorities. Businesses will also have the costly if not impossible task of replacing mission critical information lost to these devastating wildfires. Imagine the impact of losing Oil Drilling records for a Texas-based petroleum company.
For those who are able to get their records out of harm's way there is a network of offsite record storage companies that can provide a safe haven for these vital records and data tapes. Members of this network in Texas include Veritrust in Houston and the Austin/San Antonio area, SafeGuard in Fort Worth and WesTex Document in Lubbock. All of these owner-managed companies are located in office park settings that are not threatened by the wildfires, but even if the worst-case scenario comes to pass and fires engulf their facilities the records and data tapes would still be safe. This is because they have all invested in FIRELOCK Data Vaults, which offer unsurpassed fire protection. They can maintain the interior temperature below 125 degrees F. (the point at which data are lost from magnetic media) for up to four hours, even if the temperature reaches 2,000 degrees outside the vault. These data rated vaults can protect computer media, microfilm, film negatives, and vital and historic paper documents.
According to Michael Marchand, co-founder of Veritrust: "The fundamental risk issue with records and data protection is still the same, fires or not. Many businesses still do not have data or records plans or programs in place, backup tapes stay on site, employees take records and backup tapes to their homes or leave them in personal vehicles. This behavior risks data loss and exposure of customer records, often resulting in financial failure of businesses due to these losses."
John E. Miller, President and CEO of WesTex Document, Inc. is Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Instructor. With extensive training and experience in homeland security and emergency management, his company's disaster and business continuity plan is built around the foundation of his FIRELOCK vault. He asserts: "We've seen several range fires approach our location to within a couple thousand feet in the past three years and I sleep well knowing my staff is CERT trained, that we have a solid emergency plan, and a FIRELOCK vault."
This is the same type of vault the State of Texas owns, with three vaults in Austin that protect the vital records for State Agencies. Hopefully all the satellite state offices have forwarded their data tapes and vital records to these FIRELOCK vault facilities so they will not be destroyed. The Harris County Department of Education has a large vault as well, so their vital information will be protected if the fires reach into their region.
These fires will be a real test of the true capabilities of record storage facilities all over the state. There are many banks and credit unions in Texas that installed real fire vault doors on walls constructed of four layers of drywall. Those institutions will lose their records because even multiple layers of "fire rated" drywall cannot support the heavy vault doors as the drywall burns away. These so-called vaults will suffer catastrophic failure in less than half an hour of severe heat exposure, as proven by laboratory testing. That is why conscientious offsite storage firms, the State of Texas and countless others have invested in true data-rated vaults.
Despite the valiant efforts of firefighters from around the country there's no telling when the wildfires will finally be contained. The loss of homes, businesses and personal belongings is an ongoing tragedy. The loss of vital records will only compound the misery and lengthen the recovery process. Hopefully many records will be saved by protecting them within the safe haven of a data-rated fireproof vault.
FIRELOCK provides custom design expertise and manufactures and installs modular data vaults, record storage vaults and server vaults in a variety of sizes, from small rooms up to 25,000 cu. ft. These vaults are designed to provide U.L. Class 125 fire protection, along with environmental controls for your critical or vital information assets. Lightweight, expandable panel systems are available to construct fire-safe and heat-safe vaults for the protection of IT equipment, data tapes, micrographic media, vital records and historic artifacts.. The FIRELOCK vault is the highest rated fire protection storage environment for heat-sensitive assets available in the industry. Our client list includes service organizations of all types and sizes from diverse industries, ranging from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, to offsite data storage companies, major financial institutions and state and local government agencies. Information about FIRELOCK is available at www.firelock.com.
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