Fireproof Security Safes

Image of a flameTraditionally, safes were designed to protect their contents against either theft or fire. Anti-burglar safes offered little to no fire resistance, while fireproof safes were relatively easy for a thief to break open. As technology and materials advanced, it became possible to create a safe that could offer both kinds of protection. Fireproof security safes are now readily available, and provide two forms of protection without compromising on either.

In much the same way as security safes are given a cash and valuables rating, fireproof safes carry a fire rating. The manufacturer will list this in the safe’s specifications. The fire rating is given in minutes and tells you how long the safe can withstand flames without damage occurring to its contents. Standard ratings are 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes. Unless otherwise specified, the contents are assumed to be paper (i.e. documents, cash, etc.), which can withstand temperatures up to approximately 177° Celsius before charring or combusting.

Some specialized fireproof safes are designed to protect more fragile items such as computer disks. Electronic items are particularly vulnerable to heat and humidity, and so require much more protection than paper. Fireproof safes capable of protecting computer disks and similar items are usually called data safes. They will have what is known as a data rating which indicates how long they will protect their fragile contents.

To help differentiate between a fire rating for paper and a data rating, most manufacturers use P for paper, D for data and DIS for diskette (a particularly fragile type of data media that requires extra protection). For example, a rating of 60D indicates 60 minutes of protection for typical data media.

Most fireproof safes are subjected to independent fire resistance tests. Again, these are somewhat similar to the security tests endured by cash safes. Among the more popular standards are:

  • Burnt paperEN 1047-1: A European standard. Safes tested to this level will provide a high level of fire resistance.
  • EN 15659: Also a European standard and sometimes referred to as LFS (Light Fire Storage). Offers a medium level of fire resistance.
  • UL 72: An American standard created by the Underwriters Laboratory. Roughly equivalent to EN 1047-1.
  • NT FIRE 017: A highly regarded test that originated among Scandinavian research and testing facilities.

Each of these standards (apart from EN 15659) have variants based on whether the safe is meant to protect paper, typical data media, or particularly fragile data media. For instance, a safe certified EN 1047-1 S 60 P provides 60 minutes protection for Paper. EN 1047-1 S 60 D will provide 60 minutes protection for normal Data media. A safe certified EN 1047-1 S 120 DIS will provide 120 minutes for diskettes and other fragile media.

The UL 72 standard is similarly divided into Class 350 for paper, Class 150 for most forms of data media, and Class 125 for particularly fragile data media.

A fireproof safe that has been independently tested to one of these international standards will receive a certificate and badge from the test laboratory. Needless to say, a safe which has been independently tested is a far wiser investment than one which carries no certificate.

Buying a fireproof security safe is a great way to protect your home and business against two of the worst case scenarios you might encounter. They are particularly ideal for storing cash and important documents such as passports or financial records.

Gallery of Fireproof Security Safes

Click an image to enlarge it.

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