The term Fireproof in the world of safes and gun safes is a misnamed term. Fireproof does not exist, as anything will burn if you burn it hot enough and long enough. When looking for a safe or gun safe, you are looking for a safe that is fire resistant. This opens up the discussion of how much fire protection do you need.
The average metropolitan house fire is “1100-1200 degrees for about 27-30 minutes.” With this in mind, understand that average means some fires are out in 5 minutes and some are out in 1 hour. Without proper protection, a 1-hour fire will leave you without anything that you owned.
When looking for the best gun safe to suit your needs, first determine the value of the items to go inside your safe. With many families, the list of items that will go into a gun safe goes far beyond just guns. Items like cameras, cash, jewelry, coins, important documents, family memorabilia and the list goes on and on.
Many gun safe shoppers assume that the cheapest safe will get the job done, when in reality some gun safes are fire certified only, some burglary certified only or both fire and burglary certified while others offer no real certifications at all. When you are looking to shield valuables, for example guns and cash, then you need to have both fire and burglary certifications. Most of the better Fireproof Safes have both a fire rating and a U.L. (Underwriters Laboratories) burglary rating.
UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Fire Ratings
UL Class 350 1-hour: The UL Class 350 1-hour fires rating implies that when laid open to outside temperatures of over 1700 degrees, the inward temperature of the gun safe won’t surpass 350 degrees for any less than one hour
UL Class 350 2-hour: The UL Class 350 2-hour fire rating implies that when laid open to outside temperatures of over 1700 degrees, the inward temperature of the safe will not surpass 350 degrees for 2 hours.
UL Class 125 1-hour: The UL Class 125 1-hour fiery breakout rating implies that when laid open to outside temperatures of over 1700 degrees, the interior temperature of the gun safe will not surpass 125 degrees for one hour. Also, the UL Class 125 rating additionally does not permit stickiness levels above 80 percent (Moistness levels more amazing than 80% can harm computerized media) and gives insurance against feeble attractive fields.
UL Class 125 2-hour: The UL Class 125 2-hour fiery breakout rating implies that when laid open to outside temperatures of over 1700 degrees, the interior temperature of the gun safe will not surpass 125 degrees for two hours.
UL Class 125 3-hour: The UL Class 125 3-hour fiery breakout rating implies that when presented to outer temperatures up to 1925 degrees, the interior temperature will not surpass 125 degrees for three hours.
One thing that makes it easy to judge the fire capacity of a safe is that all major brand gun safes use the above mentioned independent testing of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This allows you to “compare different brands easily.”
A few different other ratings include ratings such as 350-1, 350-2 and 350-4. The important thing to recognize in these numbers is that the first number indicates the temperature inside the safe, and the second number indicates the length of time in hours. So a 350-1 means that the internal temperature shouldn’t exceed 350 degrees F during the first hour of a typical home fire.
Fire safes with a 350 class rating are good for storing paper documents because paper chars at 350 degrees F, but may not be good enough for “digital media.” The external fire temperatures that these safes undergo during testing to receive a rating ranges from 1700 F to 1850 F.
Be aware that sometimes companies express their safe’s rating according to the outside temperature that the safe can withstand and is helpful, but the inside temperature is what you need to know for protection.
Offering good gun fire safes is a priority to most major safe manufacturers. In a current survey by Sentry Safe, fire protection, at 69 percent, is the most important type of protection that people are looking for in a safe. Second comes security, then water protection and finally media protection.
There are three areas for optimal fire protection.
*The amount of fire board in a safe, the more layers, the more protection.
*The overall construction of the safe, not just what materials are used but how they are used. Along with this idea, we consider the importance of a high-temperature fire seal surrounding the perimeter of the door.
*The steel content of the safe which provides the rigidity needed for the fire board.
So just how much is enough? If the average is about 30 minutes and the high side of the average house fire is 1 hour, then most people looking to at least cover their bases would want a 1 hour or better fire rated safe at a minimum test temperature of 1200 degrees.
Gun Safes can be found with 1200 degrees/20 minute fire ratings all the way up to 1850 degrees/2 hour fire certifications. The best sellers in the industry are the 1200-1500 degree/one hour and 1 degree hour fire certifications offered by such companies as Liberty, Champion, Superior, and American Security Safes.
Now you are ready to go gun safe shopping with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Just remember when purchasing a fire safe, none of them are fireproof. Due to the limitations of the available material, all safes are susceptible to fire and heat damage to extreme temperatures for extended lengths of time.
But a top quality safe that uses the best material and is correctly assembled can be “fire resistant” at high temperatures for long lengths of time. It is important to take into consideration your personal needs when deciding what amount of protection you need in a fire safe.
A really strong safe that is designed to protect against burglary and extreme fire is usually two safes combined into one: a burglary safe inside a fire safe. A top notch safe that protects against both extremes can be expensive, but most fire gun safes offer a degree of both fire and theft protection. Only you know what you need based on where you live and what you have to protect. Make a good decision!