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How Long Should a Fire-Safe Be Rated For?

By Maria Paiz October 23, 2023

Dark blue background with contrasting light blue text that reads How long should a fire safe be rated for? The USA Safe and Vault logo and a photo of a house in flames.

*This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but it never influences our product selection process.

Table of Contents

The main purpose of having a safe is to keep your personal possessions, valuables, documents, and items safe. This means protecting them from harm, damage, theft, and misuse. This is why purchasing a high-quality, durable, and almost indestructible safe is always your best option!

If you have considered buying a safe for yourself or your home, you may have noticed that many have a fire rating. This rating is designed to illustrate how effectively the safe can withstand fire and destruction caused by flames in the event of a fire. With a safe fire rating, you will know exactly how long you have to get help from the fire department and get any accidents under control before your safe becomes compromised and your valuables are at risk. 

 

How are fire safes tested?

Safes are strenuously tested before sale to see how they withstand break-ins, damage, robbery, and fires. A safe with a good level of construction will be able to protect valuables against smoke damage, heat, and the risk of combustion in the case of a fire.

These safes are tested through explosion hazard tests by exposing the safe to extremely high temperatures to see if it will burst open. They will also go through fire endurance tests to see how it responds to high temperatures over extended periods of time whilst monitoring the internal temperatures. 

Finally, most safes will also be drop tested, in case it falls through a building on fire, to see how they would endure. 

How long can a safe last in a fire?

How long a safe lasts in a fire depends precisely on the particular model of the safe, its resistance to fire, its ability to keep the internal temperature down, and its proximity to the heart of the fire. 

For instance, a safe in a basement with a high fire rating will protect from a fire in the house's upper floors for much longer than one with a low fire rating adjacent to the source of the flames. 

This is why it is so vital that you have a safe with a fire rating as high as possible, within the parameters of what you can afford.

Safes with good fire ratings can protect the insides of your safe and all of your valuables for much longer. 

In addition, these types of safes are designed to protect items against fires and will therefore work to prevent the items from combustion if the temperatures become too high.

Furthermore, many safes may label themselves as ‘fireproof.’ Whilst numerous safes on the market are great at protecting items from fire, they may not actually be fireproof. 

Most safes are fire resistant and can therefore withstand fire for long periods of time, protecting the insides as much as possible. 

What is a good fire rating for a safe?

Before you purchase a safe, we have a little advice for you. We recommend that you only purchase a safe with a good fire rating or a higher fire resistance level to ensure your possessions are protected. 

A good fire rating for a safe should be at least an hour of fire protection and resistance of at least 350- 450 degrees. A safe with a fire rating of less than an hour will generally not provide enough protection to withstand a normal home or business fire. 

These types of safes with lower fire ratings can often only protect your belongings for about 30 minutes, often not long enough to put out a fire or save your possessions in time before any serious destruction occurs.

In many cases, a general house fire can burn at around 1400-1700 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a safe in your home, then you will need one that can withstand high temperatures such as this so that there is no risk that the possessions inside the safe are at risk. 

If the purpose of having a safe is to keep valuables protected, then purchasing one that will not stand against fire seems like a waste of money. This is why we highly recommend that you purchase a safe with a fire-resistance rating as high as possible and at least an hour at high temperatures.

You should also consider a safe with a fire seal on the door, as this is a vital part of protecting the goods inside from heat, flames, and damage. In addition, a powerful safe seal will also prevent any moisture from entering the safe, damaging, rusting, or corroding any items inside.

Summary

To sum this up, in most cases, a safe is only as good as its fire rating, as a strong fire-resistance rating will help to keep your valuables safe and out of harm's way for much longer. If you are considering purchasing a safe, then always pay attention to the fire rating, and choose one with a high rating with a resistance of over an hour at least. 

 


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