If you are looking to protect your valuables, business documents and cash, not just from theft, but also from the threat of destruction by fire or heat damage, you’re going to need a fire safe. How fireproof safes work in terms of levels of protection and fire rating, and precisely why your business needs a fire rated safe, are what we’re looking at in this article.

Fireproof safesWhy choose a fireproof safe?

A fire safe is designed to protect valuables from heat damage and smoke caused by fire. Many regular safes will offer a degree of protection against fire, but this will vary depending on how the safe is constructed. If you are looking to secure business-related valuables such as hard copies of important documents, storage media containing back-ups and sensitive data, keys or valuable stock such as jewellery, then a specialist fire safe is an essential investment.

What benefits do fireproof safes offer?

Fire safes, also known as fire chests or fire cabinets, protect digital and magnetic media, paper and other valuables. The inside of the safe is designed to remain below the temperature at which such materials will combust. They are constructed with an insulated lining, making the walls thicker which offers increased protection against fire.

You will need to check that your chosen fireproof safety box will suit you in terms of dimensions. Whilst they may appear to be of sufficient size on the outside, because of the thickened walls, the interior space will be reduced. For this reason, always be sure to check the internal dimensions. We always recommend purchasing a fireproof security safe that has more storage than you currently need, so there is scope for increased requirements in the future.

What are the different types of fire safe?

There are two core types of fire security safe: fire safes for paper, and fire safes for data.

Fire safes for data

Data fire safes are a type of commercial security safe that are suitable for protecting anything that data is stored on. This includes CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, hard drives, film negatives and audio or video tapes.

Because data media can melt or become corrupted at lower temperatures than paper, it calls for greater levels of protection.

Fire test standards require that the critical maximum temperature for digital media cannot exceed 120 degrees Celsius, and for computer data it cannot exceed 52 degrees Celsius.

Fireproof safes for paper

Paper fire safes are designed for the storage of important paper-based documents. For businesses, these might include the deeds to the property, contracts, share certificates and certificates of incorporation for example.

In the case of fire rated safes for paper, fire test standards require that the critical maximum temperature is 175 degrees Celsius.

Can digital media be store in a fireproof safe designed for paper?

Electronic media melts at a much lower temperature than paper combusts at. For this reason, fire chests designed for paper are not suitable for storing electronic media. If you are looking for a solution that allows you to protect both paper and digital media, a data combi safe is the answer.

A data combi safe is a paper fire safe with an added compartment fitted with additional insulation suitable for data items. It is also possible to purchase fireproof inserts to place inside existing commercial security safes specifically for keeping data protected from fire.

Some fireproof safes also offer protection from water. This is an important consideration if your premises have a sprinkler system that activates in the event of fire, and also if you think about the fact that hoses are often used to put fires out.

Always look at the cash and valuables ratings of fire safes when making your selection.

Safe ratings

How do fire ratings for safes work?

Safe fire ratings describe the level of fire resistance. There are three individual tests involved in setting the ratings:

  • The explosion hazard test: this test simulates a safe being suddenly subjected to extremely high temperatures, analysing whether it will break apart in an explosion.
  • The fire endurance test: this is a test that exposes a safe to high temperatures over time. This test involves placing the safe in a furnace, and then monitoring its internal temperature.
  • The fire drop test: this test replicates the effect of a safe falling through a burning building, which may happen in the event of joists burning out.

Fire ratings are referred to by insurance providers when it comes to assessing the degree of security for items covered on the policy. The higher the rating, the more secure your items are considered to be, which could in turn lead to more competitive insurance premiums.

Fireproof safe installation and maintenance

It is vital that your safe is appropriately fixed in place, however it is important to ensure that the fixing method does not adversely affect the fire rating. Bolts for example can impact upon the fire protection properties, so it is essential to have your fire safe professionally installed.

Regular security safe servicing is also crucial to ensure your safe continues to protect your valuables throughout its lifetime.

Fireproof safes from Barry Bros Security

At Barry Bros Security we have been supplying commercial security safes for several decades. Our service extends to custom designed safes to suit specific insurance graded requirements, and we can also construct safes that fit into specific spaces. In addition, our security safe installation service will ensure you meet insurance requirements.

For expert advice on selecting the right fire resistant safe to suit your individual needs, please get in touch or call in to our London security showroom to browse our display of safes in person.