Most home safes fulfill one of two important functions. Either the safe protects against theft, or it shields contents from fire damage. It's a serious, but common, mistake to assume home safes with a burglar-proof rating also protect against fire, or that a fire-proof safe will foil a determined burglar.
If you need protection against both fire and theft, you need a composite safe specifically designed to meet both threats. To ensure a home safe meets both demands, it must undergo rigorous testing.
Fire Safe Ratings
Fire ratings for Burglar / fire safes vary depending on the safe manufacturer. Many manufacturers opt for private laboratory testing. The safe is exposed to temperatures between 1200-1800 degrees Fahrenheit after which the laboratory times how long the safe's internal temperature says below 350 degrees. Paper and money begins to char at approximately 387 degrees Fahrenheit, so ideally a fire safe should maintain a temperature at or under 350 degrees.
For the best possible fire protection, choose a safe which passed K.I.S. or U.L. fire tests: these two companies have the strictest fire ratings in the world.
UL Burglar Ratings
Burglar / fire safes should have manufacturer ratings of B, B/C or C which indicate the thickness of safe walls and doors. In addition, a burglar/fire safe may have a UL RSC(Residential Security Container) certification, indicating the safe model endured a full five minutes of drilling, chiseling, punching, prying, and tampering attacks by Underwriters Laboratory technicians using professional tools--a combination of skills and equipment rarely found in burglars.
Manufacturer burglar ratings indicate the following:
- B: the safe has 1/4-inch steel body and a 1/2-inch steel door.
- C: the safe has a 1/2-inch steel body and a 1-inch steel door.
- B/C: any safe with specifications falling between B and C ratings.