ESSA and ECB-S

Phoenix ECB-S approved safeIndependent safe testing and certification has become increasingly important as manufacturers compete to drive costs down and produce better value security safes. Having independent standards to judge safes by is also useful for insurance companies and for those buying safes, as it provides an easy way to compare different models and brands.

In Europe, certain security standards for safes and other products have been laid down and agreed upon by the European Committee for Standardization. These standards are enacted by every member state of the European Union. In theory, this means that a safe certified by a laboratory in Britain is tested to exactly the same stringent levels as one tested in Germany, the Czech Republic or Spain.

However, some laboratories throughout the EU may have more experience in safe testing than others. For instance, the renowned VdS laboratory has been performing security tests since 1948. Many of the more experienced testing facilities are now part of an international body called the European Security Systems Association (ESSA). This organization was formed in 1967 and was initially known as FuP GuT (short for Forschungs- und Prüfgemeinschaft Geldschränke und Tresoranlagen, which roughly translates as “Research and Inspection Community: Safes and Safe Equipment” ).

ESSA currently partners with 9 testing labs across Europe. The testing labs approved by ESSA are:

  • CNPP (Centre National de Prévention et de Protection – France)
  • Istituto Giordano (Italy)
  • MPA Braunschweig (Germany)
  • MPA Dresden (Germany)
  • SBSC (Svensk Brand- och Säkerhetscertifierung – Sweden)
  • SSF Service (Sweden)
  • SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
  • VdS Schadenverhütung GmbH Laboratorien (Germany)
  • Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Sprengmittel und Sondertechnik (Germany)

Not all of these labs perform security tests on safes. Some perform fire resistance tests instead, or focus on testing high security locks.

Euro Grade Badge

Many safe manufacturers are also members of ESSA. This requires them to pay a yearly membership. In return, ESSA will provide advice and other support to manufacturers.

Safes that meet the rigorous standards of a test in an ESSA lab are given what is known as an ECB-S certificate. A blue badge with the ECB-S logo is also issued to successful safes. This can usually be found on the inside of the door.

Safes which achieve ECB-S certification are highly regarded within the industry, as they must be very well constructed to withstand the expert safe breaking techniques employed by ESSA technicians. The Association of Insurance Surveyors — Britain’s leading group of risk assessors and engineers — typically approve any safe which has an ECB-S certificate.

While any safe that has been independently tested to European standards will provide a high level of protection, an ECB-S certificate provides some extra peace of mind and is proof that a manufacturer has gone the extra distance to construct a safe that is extremely secure.

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