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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

CHAPTER 7. SAFES AND STORAGE EQUIPMENT

1. Physical Protection and Storage of Materials.

A. Many types of storage equipment are used to store classified and sensitive information, weapons, controlled substances, valuable equipment, and negotiable documents or funds. Only equipment described in this section or specifically approved by the USGS Security Manager should be used to safeguard such material when required by regulation or a risk assessment justifies the additional protection.

B. Employees or others having custody of classified or sensitive information or Government property are responsible for its safeguarding and proper handling. The policy for protecting National Security Information is set forth in SM 440.3, and the handling procedures and storage standards are contained in Chapter 8, National Security Information Handbook (440-3-H). The purpose of this section is to detail the security containers approved for safeguarding National Security Information and to describe insulated and burglary-resistant containers available for other applications.

C. Security officers should assure that authorized equipment is utilized for the protection of classified and sensitive information and property, and that employees are made aware of such requirements.

2. GSA-Approved Security Containers.

A. Federal Specifications. Federal specifications for security containers are developed by the Interagency Advisory Committee on Security Equipment, which also advises the GSA on security equipment listed in the FSS. Security containers furnished under the Federal specifications are tested, inspected, and approved for listing on an applicable qualified products list (QPL). The products are removed from the QPL whenever the specifications are changed to improve the product quality. These changes to the specifications are usually the result of constant testing and/or the development of new entry techniques. Security container manufacturers and prices of equipment approved by the GSA are listed in FSS Group 71 Part III E.

B. GSA Labels. A security container approved by GSA for storing classified information will bear a "General Services Administration Approved Security Container" label affixed to the front face and a "Test Certification" label affixed to the internal side of the door. Older containers will normally have only the test label located inside of the control drawer; however, the label may be missing from some containers as a result of age, damage, rehabilitation, or other modification. GSA Approved Class 5 and Class 6 containers produced after March 1991 and certified under the revised Federal specifications for increased surreptitious and covert protection bear a red "GSA Approved" label in lieu of the former black label. Black “GSA Approved” labels were issued on safes from 1962 until 1991 meeting previous Federal specifications.

C. Classes of GSA Approved Security Containers.

(1) Class 1. The Class 1 security container is insulated for fire protection. The protection provided is:

30 man-minutes against surreptitious entry
10 man-minutes against forced entry
1 hour protection against fire damage to contents
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack

(2) Class 2. The Class 2 security container is insulated for fire protection. The protection provided is:

20 man-minutes against surreptitious entry
1 hour protection against fire damage to contents
5 man-minutes against forced entry
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack

(3) Class 3. The Class 3 is an uninsulated security container, and the protection provided is:

20 man-minutes against surreptitious entry
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack
No forced entry requirement

(4) Class 4. The Class 4 is an uninsulated security container, and the protection provided is:

20 man-minutes against surreptitious entry
5 man-minutes against forced entry
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack

(5) Class 5. The Class 5 is an uninsulated security container, and the protection provided is:

20 man-hours against surreptitious entry (increased from 30 man-minutes on containers produced after March 1991)
10 man-minutes against forced entry
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack
30 man-minutes against covert entry (added to containers produced after March 1991)

(6) Class 6. The Class 6 is an uninsulated security container, and the protection provided is:

20 man-hours against surreptitious entry (increased from 30 man-minutes on containers produced after March 1991)
No forced entry test requirement
20 man-hours against manipulation of the lock
20 man-hours against radiological attack
30 man-minutes against covert entry (added to containers produced after March 1991)

D. Models of GSA-Approved Security Containers.

(1) Security Filing Cabinets.

(a) A variety of security filing cabinets is manufactured in both Class 5 and Class 6 models. Security filing cabinets are available in single, two, four, and five drawers and in both letter size and legal size models.

(b) Class 1, 2, 3, and 4 security containers either have not been listed in the FSS for a number of years or have never been manufactured.

(2) Map and Plan Security Containers. Map and Plan Security Cabinets are manufactured in both Class 5 and Class 6 models. In addition to map and plan holders, this container is also available with various drawers, adjustable shelves, and in a weapons configuration for either rifles or pistols.

3. Defective GSA-Approved Security Filing Cabinets. After initially receiving GSA approval, a number of security containers have been identified that require either the removal of the GSA approval label or must be repaired to eliminate a security hazard.

A. Art Metal Products Inc. The GSA approval label must be removed from all two and four drawer, Class 5 security filing cabinets made by the Art Metal Products Inc. These containers shall not be used for storage of classified material.

B. Hamilton Products Group, Inc. Four and five drawer, Class 6 security filing cabinets made by this manufacturer prior to July 1988 are subject to defects. The defects allow the control drawer to be locked while another drawer is open. These cabinets must be checked to ensure the cabinet cannot be locked with other drawers open, without exerting excessive force on the control drawer handle. If it is possible to lock the cabinet with less than 10 foot-pounds of torque, a modification to the cabinet is required. Security officers that determine it is necessary to retrofit a container must contact a local locksmith for repairs. Cabinets that are found to allow the locking but are not repaired shall have the GSA-Approved label removed.

4. Replacement of Unapproved Storage Containers.

A. There are no non-security filing cabinets or containers in use or presently on the market that are approved for the storage of classified information. As cited in Executive Order 12958, Classified National Security Information, Directive on Safeguarding Classified National Security Information, dated August 4, 1999, only GSA approved Class 5 or Class 6 security filing cabinets are authorized for the storage of classified National Security Information. In the past, a number of filing cabinets equipped with locking bars and secured with combination padlocks along with security storage containers equipped with built-in combination locks manufactured prior to the GSA-approval process were conditionally authorized for storing classified information. Executive Order 12958, Classified National Security Information, Directive on Safeguarding Classified National Security Information, dated August 4, 1999, rescinds all previous conditional authorizations for containers storing classified information.

B. Security Officers and custodians must immediately replace these previously approved containers with GSA-approved Class 5 or Class 6 security containers. The expense of purchasing new security containers can be substantially lessened by taking practical steps to reduce the need for classified storage containers, as suggested below.

(1) Conduct clean-out campaigns to remove unnecessary classified and other unclassified documents from containers. Excess material should be archived or destroyed, as appropriate, and retained classified holders should be moved into approved containers.

(2) In most offices, classified documents usually constitute a very small percentage of the documents in a given container. Remove classified files from existing non-approved containers and consolidate them in approved security cabinets. The non-approved cabinets can still be used for storing unclassified files.

(3) Explore the requisitioning of approved containers through surplus channels before purchasing new equipment.

5. Record Safes Designed for Fire Protection. A labeling service has been established by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) to define the level of fire protection each safe can be expected to provide. Prior to 1972, the UL designations used an alpha designation that was the same as Safe Manufacturers National Association (SMNA). Both the former UL and SMNA designations are listed below with the current equivalent UL designation. Fire protection container manufacturers and prices of equipment approved by the GSA are listed in FSS Group 71 Part III.

Fire-Resistant Safes. There are three classes of fire-resistant safes. All three classes must pass three tests - fire endurance, explosion, and impact. During the fire endurance test, the inside temperature of a safe cannot exceed 350° F at any time during the test. At the end of the test, all papers inside a safe must be entirely legible and uncharred.

(1) Class 350-4 Hours (Former UL and SMNA Classification (“A”). A specimen safe containing papers and records is placed in a testing furnace, and the temperature is raised through a standard curve until it is 2,000º at the end of four hours.

(2) Class 350-2 Hours (Former UL and SMNA Classification "B"). A specimen safe containing papers and records is placed in a testing furnace and must withstand two hours of exposure to heat reaching 1,850°F.

(3) Class 350-1 Hour (Former UL and SMNA Classification "C"). A specimen safe containing papers and records is placed in a testing furnace for a one-hour exposure to heat reaching 1,700°F.

B. Insulated Filing Devices. Insulated filing devices afford considerably less protection for records than the three levels of fire-resistant containers discussed above. The thermocouple devices to measure interior heat during the tests are located in the center of the interior compartment, and the insulated filing devices are not drop tested. As it is possible to confuse the 350-1 Insulated Filing Device with the 350-1 Fire-Resistant Safe, the label should be carefully noted.

(1) Class 350-1 Hour (Former UL and SMNA Classification "D"). A specimen-filing device is placed in a testing furnace and is heated to temperatures reaching 1,700°F, for one hour.

(2) Class 350-1/2 Hour (Former UL and SMNA Classification "E"). A specimen-filing device is heated for one-half hour to a temperature reaching 1,550°F in a test furnace.

C. Insulated Record Containers. Because information technology (IT) records, such as magnetic storage media, begin to deteriorate at 150° F with humidity levels of more than 85 percent, Fire-Resistant Safes and Insulated Filing Devices should not be used to protect these types of records. To meet this requirement, a container that has been described as a “safe within a safe” was designed. This container has a sealed inner insulated repository in which the IT material is stored and an outer safe protected by a heavy wall of insulation. This type of container has been designed to protect IT records against 150°F temperature and 85 percent humidity for the period specified. Insulated Record Containers are labeled by UL as follows:

Insulated Record Container, Class 150-4 Hour
Insulated Record Container, Class 150-3 Hour
Insulated Record Container, Class 150-2 Hour
Insulated Record Container, Class 150-1 Hour

6. Burglary-Resistant Safes. Containers designed for burglary protection are classified in accordance with test data and specifications that conform to requirements of the UL. Burglary-resistant equipment will resist an attack by tools, torch, or explosives in proportion to their construction specifications. Burglary-resistant container manufacturers and prices of equipment approved by the GSA are listed in the FSS Group 71 Part III.

A. UL Ratings. Safes undergo severe testing before receiving ratings from UL. The meaning of the various label designations resulting from the UL test are described below.

(1) TL-15 or TL-30. The TL-15 or TL-30 signifies a combination-locked steel container offering a limited degree of protection against expert burglary with common mechanical or electrical tools. The container must successfully resist entry for a net working time of 15 or 30 minutes.

(2) TRTL-30 or TRTL-60. The TRTL-30 or TRTL-60 signifies a combination-locked steel safe designed and tested to give protection against 30 or 60 minutes of attack with common electrical and mechanical tools, cutting torches, and any combination of these techniques. A successful attack consists of opening the door or making a two-inch square hole entirely through the door or front face.

(3) TXTL-60. The TXTL-60 signifies a combination locked steel chest that offers 60 minutes of protection against an expert burglary attack using common hand tools, cutting torches, high explosives, and any combination of these techniques. A successful attack consists of opening the door or making a two-inch square hole entirely through the door or body.

B. Applications. Burglary resistant safes may be useful in establishing protection of valuable equipment, controlled substances, and negotiable documents or funds. The cost of any proposed container should always be compared with the protection required for the items being safeguarded. For example, it would be an unrealistic expenditure of funds to purchase a burglary-resistant safe for the sole purpose of storing a $50 petty-cash fund.

7. Combination Locks.

A. Federal Lock Specifications.

(1) Federal Lock Specification FF-L-2740 replaced UL Group 1R requirements for GSA-approved security containers in 1991 to reduce the inherent security risks associated with conventional technology. Group 1R lock specifications were applicable for GSA-approved security containers from 1962 to 1991.

(2) Currently, only the Mas-Hamilton Group, Model X-07, X-08, and X-09 have received GSA approval. This changeable combination lock is a self-powered microcomputer lock with a liquid crystal display. Any existing Group 1R locks on GSA "red label" containers, i.e., all containers produced after March 1991, should be replaced with locks meeting Federal specifications FF-L-2740 when the locks become unserviceable.

B. UL-Rated Combination Locks. A variety of manufacturers have produced UL-rated changeable combination locks. These locks have been available for many years and continue to be installed on the various containers described above. Combination locks may be of the hand-change or key-change type. These types of locks are classified by UL as Group 1, Group 1R, or Group 2 according to the degree of protection afforded against unauthorized opening.

(1) Group 1. Group 1 combination locks afford a choice of at least 1,000,000 combinations and are highly resistant to expert or professional manipulation for a period of 20 man-hours. Group 1 locks are considered suitable for use of burglary-resistant safes and chests.

(2) Group 1R.

(a) Group 1R combination locks afford a choice of least 1,000,000 combinations and are highly resistant to expert manipulation. In addition to resisting unauthorized opening by expert manipulation for a period of 20 man-hours, these locks are secure against radiological attack for 20 hours, with a radioactive source not exceeding the equivalent of 10 curies of Cobalt 60 at a 30-inch distance. Group 1R locks are considered suitable for use on burglary-resistant safes and vaults. Group 1R locks were specified for GSA-approved security containers from 1962 to 1991.

(b) Locks on previously approved GSA “black label” security containers that require replacement due to age or mechanical failure should be replaced with locks meeting Federal Specification FF-L-2740 (See 7.A(1) and (2)).

(3) Group 2. Group 2 combination locks afford a choice of at least 1,000,000 combinations and are reasonable resistant to unauthorized openings. These combination locks are considered suitable for use on insulated safes, insulated record containers, insulated vault doors, light vault doors, and tamper-resistant doors.

C. Combinations.

(1) Changing Combinations.

(a) Classified Security Containers. The requirements for changing, classifying, recording, and protecting combinations to security containers safeguarding classified National Security Information are contained in Chapter 8, National Security Information Handbook (440-3-H).

(b) Other Containers. Combinations to insulated and burglary-resistant containers should be changed by the responsible individual, the security officer, or by a bonded contractor. Combinations should be changed when the container is placed in use, when an individual knowing the combination no longer requires access to the container, when the combination has been lost or is suspected to have been lost, at least once every 12 months, or when the container is taken out of service. Combinations to containers taken out of service must be reset to the standard factory combination of 50-25-50 prior to removal from the office space.
(c) Methods. Combination locks have either hand-change or key-change capability. A number of combination locks produced by a variety of manufacturers have been approved by GSA. These GSA-approved locks along with the non-approved locks use slightly different operating instructions and unique keys or particular hand change techniques for changing combinations. Often the experience necessary, as well as change keys, operating instructions, and changing procedures are lost with the passing of time. For assistance in changing a safe combination, contact the Security Management Office or a locally bonded locksmith.

(2) Safeguarding Combinations.

(a) Selecting a Combination. When selecting combination numbers avoid multiples of 5, ascending or descending numbers, simple arithmetical series, and personal data such as birth dates and Social Security Numbers. Use numbers that are widely separated. This can be achieved by dividing the dial into three parts and using a number from each third as one of the high-low-high or low-high-low sequences. The same combination should not be used for more than one container in the same office. Carefully follow any manufacturers' instructions in installing combination numbers.

(b) Protecting Combinations.

• Combinations should be known only by those persons whose official duties require access. The written combination should be protected at the highest classification level of material in the container or be protected in a manner commensurate with the value of the protected material.

• Combinations should be memorized. They must not be carried in wallets or concealed on persons or written on calendars, desk pads, etc.

• When opening any kind of combination lock, be sure that no unauthorized person can learn the combination by observing the sequence of numbers being entered or dialed. It may be necessary to position your body so as to block the dial from the view of anyone standing nearby.

(3) Recording Combinations. Each security officer should assure that a record of the combination to each vault, secure room, combination padlock, and security container is recorded showing the location of the container or room, the name, home address, and home telephone number of a person responsible for the container, and the names of all individuals having knowledge of the combination. Standard Form 700, Security Container Information, has been designed for this purpose. A central repository, usually the most secure container, should be designated to hold the sealed SF 700 for use during emergencies. Only appropriately authorized employees should be given access to a combination.

8. Repairing Security Containers.

A. Individuals who repair or drill security containers, vault doors, and padlocks must be cleared for access to the highest level of classified information stored within the container or must be escorted and continuously watched while working on the container.

B. Although repaired containers cannot be used to store Top Secret information, GSA-approved containers can be returned to their original state of security for storage up to Secret level by meeting the following conditions:

(1) Replace all damaged or altered parts.

(2) When a container is drilled adjacent to or through the dial ring, replace the lock with one of equal integrity. Repair the drilled hole with a tapered casehardened steel rod (dowel, drill bit, bearing) with a diameter and length slightly larger than the hole. When the rod is driven into the hole, a shallow recess should remain at each end of the rod that is no less than one-eighth inch and no more than three-sixteenths inch deep. This will permit a substantial weld on the inside and outside surfaces. The outside of the drawer head must then be puttied, sanded, and repainted in such a way that no visible evidence of the hole or its repair remains on the outer surface after replacement of the damaged parts.

(3) Containers that have been drilled or repaired in a manner other than as described above cannot be restored to their original state of security integrity. The "Test Certification Label" and the GSA-Approved Security Container label, if any, must be removed. The container must not be used for storing classified information, and a notice to this effect must be marked on the front of the container.


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U.S. Department of the Interior
, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
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Last modification: 22-Aug-2017@13:38 (kk)
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