Buying fireproof safes is not as cut and dry as you might think. In fact, not all fireproof safes are really fireproof.
Often times when choosing among all the fireproof safes out there, the decision as to which one to buy comes down to price and size. Some companies will tell you that “some protection is better than none” and sell you a cheap safe that can be easily pried open or won’t protect your valuables in a fire.
When you stop to consider the reasons to invest in a safe in the first place, it comes down to a very simple but extremely important issue: The contents you want to protect are often some of the most important and valuable things you own.
Fireproof Safes to Protect Against Burglary
Many customers come to us looking for fireproof safes. These safes are really “fire resistant” meaning they resist heat and smoke (and some protect against water) over a given period of time.
Fireproof safes (actually fire resistant safes) do a great job of protecting paper documents (and even small amounts of cash) from heat and smoke damage, however, fireproof safes use very thin (16-18 gauge) metal in the construction of the safe which makes them easier to attack for a burglar. The metal is primarily used to hold the fire retardant material and can be easily punctured, cut or sawed with simple hand tools.
DO NOT store high valued contents, such as large amounts of cash, jewelry or precious metals, in a fireproof safe. Over the past 15 to 20 years we have seen too many fireproof safes that have been easily broken into after the owners mistakenly thought the safe would be protected against a burglary attack. Instead, look at burglar fireproof safes that are burglar rated, or for content valued above $30,000, look at our high security burglar fireproof safes. These safes are engineered and designed to protect your valuables against both burglar attacks and fires.
Fireproof Safes for Data/Media Storage
Data and media (photos, CDs/DVDs and computer disks/tapes, etc) are very sensitive to heat and humidity/moisture and standard fireproof safes are not engineered to specifically protect against these things. Fireproof safes are engineered and designed to protect paper and keep the internal temperature of the safe below 350 degrees, which is the critical temperature where paper will start to char and burn. This method of protection creates steam (moisture) inside the safe. Any sensitive data or media will be badly damaged or destroyed at or above 135 degrees or 85% humidity.
Minimum Rating Desired for Fireproof Safes
Fireproof safes and burglar fireproof safes should have a minimum of a 1 hour fire rating. Normally, a safe with less than a 1 hour fire rating is not likely to protect any paper or money in the event of a fire. The problem is, you don’t know where a fire could start – it may start right next to your safe and continue to subject the contents of your safe to high temperatures for a long period of time. Fireproof safes are great for protecting paper documents against fire. They are NOT recommended for protecting large amounts of cash or high value items from theft. When you want BOTH burglar and fire protection, look for a burglar fireproof safe or a high security burglar fireproof safe.
Eastway Lock & Key specializes in fireproof safes as well as burglar proof safes. Contact us today for complete information on safes. 704-347-1088.