Understand the Ratings of a Burglary Fire Safe
A safe is almost a necessary investment once you start to get established in life (or as soon as you leave home and have some important documents to keep safe). Many safes either stress their fire or burglary protection levels, but lets face it, the average person wants both, they want a burglary fire safe. So when shopping for a safe, look for both. The ratings are usually listed on the safe or in its brochure, you just need to know how to read and interpret the way the information is given.
The first thing to realize about a burglary fire safe, is that in fire ratings, it is rated for both temperature, and the duration that the contents can stay safe at that maximum temperature without being damaged. Most safes are rated from anywhere from a half hour to 4 hours of protection. The label will also tell at what external temperature the safe was tested (any reputable safe will be tested at an independent UL laboratory and bear a UL rating).
Besides this external temperature rating, make sure to look for what type of material it is rated for internal temperatures. Paper products char at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Tapes, cartridges, microfilm and microfiche are all damaged at 150 degrees fahrenheit, and computer discs cannot exceed 125 degrees without being damaged. Knowing what you will store in your safe is very important to make sure that you get one that will protect everything you want protected. If you get a safe rated for paper, and place an external hard drive with all your digital family photo's in it, you may be in for a disappointment if fire does strike.
The best thing to look for on a new safe is a label that says the safe has been tested by an Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and says something like, "As to Fire Resistance Rating: Class ___ - ___ Hr". The class indicates internal temperature, and should be 350, 150 , 125. The Hr indicates the length of time it will offer that amount of protection, usually it will be 1/2, 2, 3 or 4.
When it comes to the theft protection side of a burglary fire safe, this is also rated by UL labs. Common household safes hold a Residential Security Container (RSC) rating. To get a rating, the safe has to withstand 5 full minutes of rigorous prying, drilling, punching, chiseling, and tampering attacks by UL technicians. The rating indicates how well the safe is made. Here are the four basic ratings:
- B Rating - doors less than 1" thick and a steel body that is less than 1/2" thick.
- C Rating - doors at least 1" thick and a steel body that is also at least a 1/2" thick.
- Burglary Classification TL-15 - Has a combination lock which is designed to offer a limited degree of protection against attack by common mechanical and electrical hand tools.
The 15 indicates that the safe resisted entry for 15 minutes when attacked by such tools.
- Burglary Classification TL-30 - Also a combination lock that is designed to offer protection for at least 30 minutes when attacked with common hand or picking tools, as well as mechanical or portable electrical tools, and pressure applying devices.