Fire Ratings Explained

Fire causes over 6 billion in property damages every year. The National Fire Protection Agency NFPA also reported that one home structure fire happens every 85 seconds. With alarming facts as these make sure you make the right choice.

The Best: Fire safes that are constructed with inner and outer steel plates enclosing a poured fire insulating material creating a seamless fire barrier. These safes offer superior fire protection and have been tested by either Underwriters Laboratories (UL rating) or Intertek (ETL).

Better: Fire safes are constructed with 2 to 4 assorted layers of gypsum board positioned throughout the interior body and door.  These safes should be tested and verified by Intertek (ETL).

Good: Fire safes are constructed with 1 to 2 assorted layers of gypsum board positioned throughout the interior body and door. They typically offer a manufacturers independent fire rating.

U.L. Fire Rating

HOUR AND TWO HOUR FIRE LABELS

U.L. Label/Class 350°F-one hour and Class 350°F-two hour. The safe will maintain an interior temperature less than 350°F when exposed to fire for a period of one hour at 1700°F or for a period of two hours at 1850°F. Safe must successfully undergo all other requirements for the Fire Endurance Test, Explosion Hazard Test and the Fire/Impact Test as stated below.

U.L. Class 350 2 Hour
 
U.L. Class 350 2 Hour

FIRE ENDURANCE TEST

Fire Endurance TextAfter heat sensors and paper are placed inside the safe, the unit is locked and exposed to a uniformly distributed fire. The furnace is regulated to reach a maximum temperature of 1700°F for a period of one hour, or 1850°F for two hours, then allowed to cool without opening the furnace. The interior temperature is recorded throughout the test and during the cooling period until a definite drop is shown and must never exceed 350°F.

Once cooled, the unit is opened and examined for usability. The units locking mechanisms and parts fastenings are examined for security and the interior examined for visible evidence of undue heat transmission.

EXPLOSION HAZARD TEST

Explosion Hazard TestThe safe is locked and placed into a furnace preheated to 2000°F. This temperature is maintained for 30 minutes (2 hour test is 45 minutes) and if no explosion results, the unit is allowed to cool without opening the furnace doors. Once cooled, the unit is opened and examined for usability. The units locking mechanisms and parts fastenings are examined for security and the interior examined for visible evidence of undue heat transmission.

FIRE IMPACT TEST (MANUFACTURER’S OPTION)

Fire Impact TestAfter the explosion hazard test the safe is removed from the furnace and within two minutes is dropped 30’ onto a riprap of brick on a heavy concrete base. After impact the unit is examined for deformation, rupture of parts, damaged insulation and any other openings into the interior of the unit. Once cooled, the unit is inverted and reheated to 1550°F for a period of 30 min. (2 hour test: 45 min. at 1638°F).

Once cooled, the unit is opened and examined for usability. The units locking mechanisms and parts fastenings are examined for security and the interior examined for visible evidence of undue heat transmission.

ETL FIRE RATING EXPLAINED

ETL Testing Laboratories has been conducting performance and reliability tests since 1896. They are an internationally recognized with Labs in over 14 countries. Today Intertek ETL is the industry’s leading independent laboratory for gun safe fire testing.

When analyzing the fire performance of competitive safes, be sure to weigh reports from independent laboratories against unverified factory testing.

ETL 120 Minutes Fire Protection
ETL 90 Minutes Fire Protection
ETL 45 Minutes Fire Protection

  • Be sure to weigh reports from independent laboratories against unverified factory testing.
  • Consumers looking for real fire protection should consider a safe that has been tested and certified by either Underwriters Laboratories (UL ) or Intertek Laboratories (ETL).
  • Verify the fire curve. Did the furnace hold its specified temperature early on in the test or ramp up near the end? A true 2-hr. fire test should show that within 8 minutes, the furnace temperature was raised to 1200° F, and that temperature was maintained for the remainder of the two-hour test.
  • What type of door seals does the product offer? The best seal is a Palusol™ door seal that expands to 7 times its size when temperatures reach 212 degrees, sealing off both heat and smoke. Some top end products use dual seals utilizing a silicone seal as first defense protecting the safe until the Palusol™ seal performs its task.