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Your Safe - Burglar Resistant or Fire Resistant?

By Erin Mulfinger

The following article is about safes and safe contents: what you should store in your safes, how large a safe should be used to keep your items safely stored, protecting items from fires, burglary, water-damage, via safe usage.

When you begin shopping for a home safe, you will find that there are several decisions to make. Size and budget are, of course, considerations for everyone, as are what to store and where to locate your safe. But one of the most critical things to think about before making this important purchase is the primary type of protection you need. Safes are manufactured for two main purposes – fire-resistance and burglar resistance.

Fire resistant safes are designed to protect papers in the event of a fire. They have little burglar resistance. These safes have insulation that releases moisture during a fire's extreme heat. This moisture keeps the contents to a temperature below that at which paper ignites. Fire reistant safes have various ratings according to how long they will protect papers during a fire. The higher the rating, the more expensive the safe, and the longer your papers will remain protected.

No safe is "burglar proof". However, some safes are designed to be "burglar resistant", and contain features geared toward protecting valuables from theft rather than from fire. The goal behind a burglar resistant safe is to make the safe take so long to get into, and so difficult to remove from the premises that the burglar won't even try. Burglar resistant safes are rated based on how long they take to break into, and again, the higher the rating, the more expensive. Some safes are rated by Underwriter's Laboratory, with either a TL-15 or TL-30 rating. These ratings indicate that the safe has been tested by Underwriter's Laboratory and has been determined to require 15 (TL-15) or 30 (TL-30) minutes of effort for an intruder to crack.

Since planning for the unexpected is a big part of the purpose of having a safe to begin with, it is a good recommendation to look for one that is both fire resistant and burglar resistant. They are readily available, though, as you might expect, are more expensive than those that offer protection from only fire or theft. However, the peace of mind they offer can be well worth the investment in the long run.