Fire Protection

One of the top reasons people choose to purchase a safe is for the fire protection they offer. You can get anywhere from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours of fire resistance for your firearms and valuables. 

The main goal is to keep the inside temperature of your safe low, for as long as possible. The longer time ratings will ensure the contents of your safe will be exposed to less heat for a longer time. 

The construction of a safe is what determines fire protection. 

No gun safe is completely fireproof. However, some offer more fire resistance than others. The trick is knowing what to look for when shopping for your safe.

Some Gun Safes are More Fire-Resistant

There are some safe manufacturers that focus solely on security, then there are those focusing on fire resistance. There are other safe manufacturers that focus on both security and fire resistance.

Unfortunately, it is not always that simple to pick out what safes are more fire-resistant than others unless you "take a look under the hood," so to speak. The materials used and how they are used can determine how well a safe will withstand a fire.

There are three ingredients that go into building a safe to protect the contents it holds including firearms, valuables, and important documents.

  1. Heat-activated, high-quality expanding door seals to keep smoke, heat, and fire out.
  2. High-quality steel that is 12-gauge or thicker.
  3. Interlocking layers of UL-rated fireboard that covers all bare metal surfaces without gaps.

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of their home going up in flames. Unfortunately, home fires happen all the time. When trying to determine how much safe fire protection you need, you need to consider your risks for a fire:

  • Do you live in a fire-prone area where wildfires seem to occur on a frequent basis?
  • Do you live in a rural area where, if you're away, it might take hours before a home fire is discovered?
  • Do you live in an older home that does not have the benefits of improved, flame-retardant building materials?
  • Is your home heated with a fireplace or wood-burning stove?

Safe fire ratings are tested based on research conducted through the U.s. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for a full-scale house fire.

During NIST's joint study with the ATF, U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association and American Re-Insurance, temperatures were recorded to show exactly what goes on during the first minutes of an intense home fire.

Most safe manufacturers rely on furnace testing when certifying safes for fire protection. The temperature can be ramped up as high as 1200° during the first ten minutes of the test.

This is because NIST has shown that fire temperatures hit 1200° during the initial moments of a fire.

The safe is then rated based on how long it can withstand fire of a certain temperature and for how long all while keeping everything inside safe.

  1. Multiple layers of fire-rated board for insulation throughout the safe, including walls, the door, ceiling, and door jambs. These layers should be interlinked to prevent any gaps that can allow fire or hot air to reach the contents of the safe.
  2. Thick steel bodies with minimal welds. The ticker, the better when it comes to the steel used to construct a fire-resistant safe. Ideally, the safe should have minimal welds to prevent any potential areas where heat or smoke can seep into the safe.
  3. Avoiding cheap door seals. A superior, fire-resistant safe needs to have a superior door seal that keeps heat, fire, and smoke out.