There are two main types of safes on the market: fire safes and burglary safes. You have to decide type of safe is best for you, and how much protection that you need. Take a look at fire safes and some important information that you need to know when selecting the best safe to protect your valuables.
There are two basic types of safes, fire and burglary. Obviously, a fire safe is to protect against fire and the other against theft. Today, all safes will protects to some degree against both, but few offer strong fire and theft protection. This is because of the type of construction used in a fire or burglary safe is different, and what makes a safe protect against fire can make it vulnerable to theft. A fire safe typically has thin metal walls with insulating material (often called fire board) sandwiched between them. This makes the safe vulnerable to a forcible attack. But a safe built to safeguard against burglary needs to have thick steel walls, and this can cause the safe's interior to heat up too quickly during a fire to offer the type of protection needed to survive a hot blaze.
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 really expensive, but most safes offer a degree of both fire and theft protection. Only you know what you need based upon where you live and what you have to protect.
One thing that makes it easy to judge the fire capacity of a safe is that all major brand safes use the independent testing of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) which uses standard fire ratings. This allows you to easily compare different brands. There are a few different ratings, but 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 350ÚF during the first hour of a typical home fire. Fire safes with a 350 class rating is good for storing paper documents because paper chars at 405ÚF, 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 1700ÚF to 1850ÚF. 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 fire safes is a priority to most major safe manufacturers. In a current survey by Sentry Safe, fire protection, at 69%, 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.
According to Liberty Safe, 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, Browning mentions 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.
Just remember when purchasing a fire safe, none of them are "fire proof". Due to the limitations of available material, all safe's are susceptible to fire and heat damage at 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.