Depending on the model you choose, you get anywhere from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours of fire resistance for your firearms and valuables.
The main goal is to keep the inside temperature of your safe low, for as long as possible. The longer time ratings will ensure the contents of your safe will be exposed to less heat for a longer time.
Unfortunately, safe fire ratings are not regulated. Liberty has based their fire rating system off the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for a “full-scale house fire.”
The construction of the safe is what determines the level of fire protection. Liberty proudly shows the total layers of fireboard and the steel thickness of each model. We ensure there are no weak links.
You don’t want to think about the possibility of your home going up in flames. But home fires happen all the time.
When trying to determine how much safe fire protection you need, you need to consider your risks for a fire:
● Do you live in a fire-prone area where wildfires seem to occur on a frequent basis?
● Do you live in a rural area where, if you’re away, it might take hours before a home fire is discovered?
● Do you live in an older home that does not have the benefits of improved, flame-retardant building materials?
● Is your home heated with a fireplace or wood-burning stove?
In fact, so seriously that we base our fire testing on standards that have been developed according to research conducted through the efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for a “full-scale house fire.”
During NIST’s joint study with the ATF, U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association and American Re-Insurance, temperatures were recorded to show what exactly goes on during the first minutes of an intense home fire.
When Liberty certifies our safes for fire protection, we rely on furnace testing. We ramp the furnace temperature up to 1200 degrees during the first 10 minutes of the test.
Why? Because the NIST test has shown that fire temperatures hit 1200 degrees during the initial moments of a fire.
Meanwhile, many other safe manufacturers skew their furnace test results by slowing their 1200 ramp-up to 20-30 minutes. They do this to make it appear that their safes can withstand the heat of fire for a longer period of time. Don’t let the results from other manufacturers’ furnace fire tests fool you.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same holds true for a safe’s fire protective features.
To build a superior fire-resistant safe, you need three key features:
1.) Multiple layers of fire-rated board for insulation throughout the safe, including walls, door, ceiling and door jambs. These layers should be interlinked to prevent any gaps that can allow fire or hot air to reach the contents of the safe.
2.) Thick steel bodies with minimal welds. The thicker, the better when it comes to the steel used to construct a fire-resistant safe. Ideally, the safe should have minimal welds to prevent potential areas where heat or smoke can seep into the safe.
3.) No weak links, like cheap door seals. A superior, fire-resistant safe needs to have a superior door seal that keeps heat, fire and smoke out. All full-size Liberty gun safes feature a heat-activated, expanding Palusol® door seal.
When it comes to fireboard installation, regular drywall (sheetrock) will not do.
While some manufacturers will use common gypsum board as a barrier for heat and fire, Liberty does not.
Instead, we use multiple layers of 5/8-inch thick fire-rated drywall for safe fire protection.
The gypsum core in fire-rated drywall is specially reinforced with glass fiber and other additives to boost its fire-resistance.
No gun safe is completely fireproof. However, some offer more fire resistance than others. The trick is knowing what to look for while shopping for your safe.
Here’s what you should know about gun safes and fire-resistance.
Some Gun Safes are More Fire-Resistant
There are safe manufacturers that focus solely on security. Then there are those focusing on fire resistance. There are other safe manufacturers that focus on both security and fire resistance.
Unfortunately, it is not always that simple to pick out what safes are more fire-resistant than others unless you “take a look under the hood,” so to speak. The materials used and howthey are used can determine how well a safe will withstand a house fire.
There are three ingredients that go into building a safe to protect the contents it holds including firearms, valuables, and important documents.
1.) Heat-activated, high-quality expanding door seals to keep smoke, heat, and fire out
2.) High-quality steel that is 12gauge or thicker
3.) Interlocking layers of UL-rated fireboard (not sheetrock) that covers all bare metal surfaces without gaps
How a Safe is Fire-Tested Matters
The type of fire testing for a gun safe model gives a good idea about how well it will stand up to a fire.
For example, Liberty Safe tests our safes according to standards used by NIST for full-scale home fire testing.
These standards give a more accurate representation of what happens to temperatures inside a typical home during the first 10 minutes of a fire.
Instead of ramping up the temperature in the test furnace to 1200° after 20-30 minutes, Liberty’s test raises the temperature within 10 minutes.
Could a Gun Safe Survive a House Fire?
There is no guarantee any gun safe will survive a house fire. Where you keep your safe also plays a part in whether it can survive a fire.
Keeping your safe out of areas in your home more likely to catch on fire helps. Avoid putting your safe in your garage, kitchen, or in rooms directly next to, above, or below those areas.