Proving Fireproof Gun Safes: What to Look for Before Purchase

With the fast-paced hustle of day-to-day life, many households are ill-prepared for emergencies, often overlooking the potential for fire-related disasters. Fireproof gun safes offer an indispensable layer of security, safeguarding not only firearms but also important documents such as birth certificates, property deeds, insurance policies, not to mention irreplaceable items such as family heirlooms and photographs. Owning a fireproof gun safe is not just a prudent investment but a critical responsibility, helping homeowners ensure that their valuables remain secure and functional, away from the destructive reach of high temperatures.

Take this checklist with you while browsing the fire protection info below: 

  • Fire rating: Choose a rating that reflects typical fire exposure in residential settings.
  • Fire testing procedures: Has your optimal safe been endurance, hazard, and impact tested? What are the differences? 
  • Installation location: Position the safe in a location that maximizes fire protection and accessibility.
  • Are you shopping for residential or commercial purposes? 

How to tell when a gun safe is stringently tested for fire protection 

Understanding fire ratings

The efficacy of fireproof safes is primarily measured by their fire ratings. Fire ratings are a measurement of how a fire protected system can resist the spread of fire, maintain its structural integrity, and keep its contents cool. Fire ratings are typically expressed in a time duration and temperature degree. 

For example, a rating of “UL 1-hour fire safe” indicates that the safe can endure a standard fire with temperatures around 1700°F for one hour without the internal temperature exceeding 350°F, a threshold beyond which paper begins to char. There are, of course, many levels to fire ratings, as well as a distinct tiers of testing quality correlating to the responsible entity. Here’s how American Security breaks down the various types of fire ratings:

UL (Best)

The recognized leader in fire safety and certification, UL Solutions is a full-service 3rd party provider of fire safety testing and certification for many industries around the world. A UL fire rating indicates that the fire protected system has been tested and certified by UL to meet specific fire resistance standards.

ETL (Better)

Intertek Laboratories provides clients across the world with quality control, research, fire testing, measurement, and certification activities for industry, commerce, markets, institutions, regulation, and governments. An ETL fire rating indicates that the fire protected system has been tested and certified by Intertek to meet specific fire resistance standards.

Independent tested (Good)

An independent test rating indicates a manufacturer sent their products to a different company to complete the fire rating tests. These tests tend to be unbiased and more dependable than factory-tested (see below). Independent companies can complete their tests following UL and ETL procedures.

Factory tested (Ok)

A factor test rating indicates a manufacturer created their own fire test on their products within their facilities. These tests are not globally recognized and can be biased. The companies are not required to follow any standardized procedure.

Not tested (Bad)

If there is no posted fire rating, a manufacturer did not complete a fire rating test. Manufacturers without fire ratings test will typically fall short of their claimed fire protection. These claims should not be recognized. 

“After the fire, the only things we had left were the firearms and other valuables we’d left in our AMSEC safe. American Security makes an incredible product, and they treated us so incredibly well during all of that.”

Michael Katz, American Security Customer

Fire testing types and procedures

Fire testing of safes involves placing the safe in a furnace where temperatures quickly escalate to fire-like conditions. The safe must not only maintain its internal temperature but also ensure that the integrity of its structure isn’t compromised throughout the test duration. Advanced features, like expanding door seals, activate under heat to prevent smoke and fire ingress, further protecting the internal environment.

Fireproof safes undergo stringent testing to ensure they meet safety standards capable of protecting contents during fire scenarios. Here’s a detailed look at three specific types of fire tests typically conducted to evaluate the integrity and effectiveness of fireproof safes:

Fire endurance test

Purpose: The fire endurance test assesses the safe’s ability to protect its contents against high temperatures over a specified period. This test simulates the conditions of a house or building fire to check how well the safe maintains an internal temperature that keeps the contents undamaged, particularly critical for sensitive materials like paper and electronic media.

Procedure: During this test, the safe is exposed to temperatures around 1700°F (approximately 927°C), which is typical of a severe fire. The temperature curve for this test is strictly defined by standards such as UL or ETL. The safe’s internal temperature is monitored to ensure it does not exceed a set threshold—usually 350°F for paper and 125°F for digital media—over the course of the test, which could last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours based on the safe’s rating.

Evaluation: After the test, the safe is cooled naturally without opening. Once cooled, the safe is opened to examine the state of the contents. The safe passes if the internal conditions have been maintained within safe limits and the contents are intact and unharmed.

Explosion hazard test

Purpose: This test evaluates the safe’s ability to withstand sudden and extreme heat exposures that could cause an explosion, particularly in scenarios where the safe is subjected to rapid temperature rise, such as in a flash fire.

Procedure: The explosion hazard test involves placing the safe in a preheated furnace where temperatures rapidly reach around 2000°F (about 1093°C). The safe must withstand these conditions for approximately 30 minutes without exploding or showing signs of structural failure.

Evaluation: The integrity of the safe’s structure is checked after the test to ensure there are no breaches or deformations. If the safe remains intact with no signs of explosion or failure, it passes the test.

Fire impact test (Manufacturer’s option)

Purpose: While not always mandatory, the fire impact test is crucial for assessing the safe’s resilience to physical shocks during a fire, such as might occur if the safe falls through burning floors or if debris falls onto it during a structural collapse.

Procedure: In this test, the safe is heated to a specific temperature (usually for about 30 minutes) and then dropped from a certain height (typically a few stories) to simulate a fall during a fire. Following the impact, the safe is reheated to check if it can still protect its contents despite the physical damage.

Evaluation: The safe is evaluated based on whether it opens, remains intact, or if the locks and fireproofing seal still function after the reheat phase. The contents are inspected for damage to determine if the safe has maintained its protective capabilities throughout the ordeal.

BFII Gun Safe

THE WORLD’S MOST UNIQUE GUN SAFE

  • UL certified RSC burglary protection
  • 1/2″ solid steel plate door
  • ETL certified 120 minute fire protection
  • Lifetime warranty against theft and fire
  • Proudly made in the USA
  • Two-tone combinations available with textured body, using any standard textured color, and either high gloss or textured door. Please refer to Standard Colors list.
  • Quotes available for other custom options such as two-tone high gloss, discontinued colors, or color match to your specifications, subject to manufacturing limitations.

Learn more

Fireproof gun safes for residential 

Firearm safety

For gun owners, the primary concern is often the secure storage of firearms to prevent access by unauthorized users, especially children. Fireproof gun safes provide a secure environment that mitigates risks of accidents while protecting the contents from fire-related damage.

Protection of valuables and irreplaceable items

Beyond firearms, these safes are ideal for safeguarding jewelry, family heirlooms, precious photographs, and other personal items that would be difficult or impossible to replace. Their fire-resistant capabilities ensure that valuables can survive in the unfortunate event of a house fire.

Emergency preparedness

Fireproof gun safes are part of a comprehensive approach to emergency preparedness. They offer peace of mind, knowing that in case of a fire, critical items such as passports, birth certificates, and emergency cash are protected and accessible.

Customizable options

Many models come with customizable shelving and door organizers, allowing for the safe storage of both guns and other items in an organized—and personalized—manner.

Our goal? Build as close to indestructible as possible

Fireproof gun safes are a cornerstone of responsible firearm ownership and general security strategy for homeowners. By understanding fire ratings and choosing the right safe, individuals can ensure their most precious items are shielded from fire’s destructive power, offering peace of mind in the face of uncertainty. Remember, while no safe is completely invulnerable, a well-chosen fireproof safe provides significant protection, making it a wise and necessary investment for anyone looking to secure valuable or sensitive items.