Local Government Record Storage

Vault Storage for Permanent Records

Maine State Statute 5 M.R.S.A. § 95-B requires each local government to have a fireproof safe or vault to protect permanently valuable records.

The following provisions apply to local government records.

Safe or vault for preservation. Each local government shall provide a fireproof safe or vault for the preservation of all records that must be retained permanently but are not required for business purposes. The official having responsibility for those records shall deposit them in the safe or vault where those records must be kept except when required for use.

General Guidelines for Budgeting and Planning Purposes, to Insure Conformity with State Law:

  • Vault should be either ground-supported (i.e., capable of standing on its own if the building around it collapses) or located within a fire-resistive building (one that will not suffer structural collapse even if its contents is completely consumed). Walls of the building may only be used as walls of the vault if the building is fire-resistive.
  • The vault should be planned and its construction supervised by a registered engineer or architect. Its walls may only be pierced for necessary services, and 29-255 Chapter 10 page 8 should not be open to any type of shaft. Floor and roof may not be pierced. All walls, floor (if vault is structure-supported rather than ground-supported), and door should at a minimum meet 4-hour fire resistance standards per a nationally recognized standards organization. The vault door may not be a standard “fire door” or other design not specifically intended for vault use. The door locking mechanism should provide for escape by a person accidentally locked inside.
  • No combustible materials may be used in the vault’s construction, including in any necessary damp-proofing. A ventilating system that conforms to nationally recognized standards should be provided, and all services (electrical, heating, etc.) should conform to national and local codes. Open flame heating shall not be used under any circumstances.
  • The vault should be installed by qualified and experienced personnel, in conformity with its manufacturer’s requirements. “Fireproof” cabinets or other portable fire resistant records storage equipment may not be substituted for a properly designed and constructed vault.

The Standard for the Protection of Records is available from the National Fire Protection Association to purchase or can be viewed online by creating an account (but is not available for copy/distribution).

Alternative Repositories

Records may be retained by an alternative institution. The local government agency retains legal custody and may regain possession of records at any time. An institution must be approved by the Archives Advisory Board as a depository for local government records before a local government agency may deposit its records with the institution. Criteria for Approved Alternative Repositories are contained within the Local Government Record Retention Schedules.

Use of Commerical Records Centers

Local government agencies may use commercial records centers to store their semi-current records. Before any records are transferred, the commercial records center must be approved in writing by the Archives and meet the criteria listed in the Local Government Record Retention Schedules.