There’s the age-old debate on “fireproof safes”. The internal dialogue may go something like this:
…Do I really want to risk losing all of my contents in my safe due to a fire? Of course not! I need a fire-rated safe!
…Which one do I get? This one looks okay.
Oh no! it’s only rated for 30 minutes!
…Is that enough time? I need the safe with the most fire protection!
Oh my! It’s so expensive …but I have to buy it or else all my contents will be destroyed!
This dialogue was my own, as a brand-new firearm owner over a decade ago. I was absolutely clueless and fell prey to marketing tactics that were perfectly poised for someone like me. My bank account took a hit, but what hurt most of all is the feeling of being duped. I discovered my safe that claimed to be fire-resistant was not burglar resistant.
So, I started researching what makes a “good safe” to inform my students best (as a budding firearm instructor back then). I discovered that other new firearm owners felt similarly to how I did. Many were confused by the various tables and charts explaining different fire rating classifications and modes of testing. Do you think the complexity is intended to help consumers? I doubt that. Instead, it drives fear which drives sales.
There are many fireproof safe myths that have been debunked, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
MYTH #1: Fireproof safes are completely fireproof
A few years ago, my husband and I were returning to Knoxville from visiting Cherokee, North Carolina. We had made a stop to visit picturesque Clingman’s Dome, but it was so smokey we couldn’t see anything. We stopped our other sightseeing activities for the day, packed up, and headed back home.
Little did we know, the poor view wasn’t the Smoky Mountains along the horizon but from a deadly wildfire in Gatlinburg. It still impacts me today how lucky we were to escape. Several friends of mine lost everything they owned in the devastating wildfire, and yes, they had top-of-the-line fireproof safes. As a whole, the 2016 Gatlinburg, Tennessee wildfires estimated $911 million in property damage.
MYTH #2: Fireproof safes undergo rigorous testing
This is the best ploy by far. Two of the most common fire ratings that safe manufacturers use are private tests (completed by a third party), and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Classes of fire protection.
Any time I see a company – in any industry – boast about “third-party research,” I instantly chuckle. The analytical and cynical side of me can’t help but wonder how the companies are secretly related or who has the best interest at hand.
It is effortless to pass a test when you know what corners to cut. Examples include reducing the maximum temperature, using shorter test times, intentional uneven heating, or placing wet rags inside the safe, wetting the fireboard (glorified drywall), or not retesting after design changes.
MYTH #3: A good safe needs to have a UL fire rating
Underwriters Laboratory provides three basic tests for the fire resistance of record protection equipment. Equipment in classes A, B, and C are subjected to all three tests. Still, the UL ratings are vague. Equipment in classes D and E do not take the fire impact test. So, what does all of this mean?
It means absolutely nothing. Even if you disregard MYTH #2 on rigorous testing, no safe is truly fireproof. Also, fires are not all the same, meaning no two are alike. Due to these uncontrollable variables, this means there is no actual guarantee your contents will be protected.
MYTH #4: My guns have a higher chance of being ruined by fire than being stolen
If math is not your strong suit (like me), I will simplify it – there’s a higher chance of guns being stolen than being destroyed in a fire.
No matter what you’re in the market for, be sure to take the time to research and make an informed decision. Don’t rely on simple suggestions from friends – find what works best for you and your situation.
SecureIt is a safe manufacturer focused on the consumer’s needs without the gimmick of phony fire ratings. The multi-decade expertise outfitting the US Military weapons storage systems, and continual innovation bring revolutionary change to the civilian market through SecureIt’s lightweight, secure, fast access gun safes.
Written by Emily Pritt