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One of the top reasons people purchase Liberty gun safes is for the fire protection they offer. Our safes are designed to provide their owners with industry-leading security and fire resistance. Depending on the model you choose, you get anywhere from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours of fire resistance for your firearms and valuables. If you are shopping for a safe, here some things we think you should know about safe fire protection.
We are proud to have been building the best safes in the industry for over 30 years, and a lot goes into building the #1 safes in America. From purposeful design to superior materials, our gun safes are known for their high-quality, durable, fire-resistant features. So why should you choose to buy a Liberty gun safe instead of one from another manufacturer? Because we make fire protection a top priority and we think you should, too.
Most gun safes these days come with some level of fire protection and, as a result, a corresponding fire rating. The problem is, safe fire ratings are not regulated the way safe bodies and locks are (which are tested by Underwriters Laboratories). There's no third party, no governing body, no outside source to independently verify claims of fire resistance. This results in many manufacturers making exaggerated claims regarding the fire temperatures and durations their safes can withstand. So to help you identify the legitimate claims from the unreasonable ones, here’s a few things you should know about safe fire protection ratings.
First, let's talk duration. Typically, when safe manufacturers test their safes to determine how long they can survive a fire, they include the time it takes to ramp up to peak temperature in their rating. So, if the safe has a fire rating of up to 1400o F for an hour, and it took 20 minutes to get up to that temperature, then their rating will be a little misleading (potentially disastrously so).
Similarly, many manufacturers claim their safes can withstand temperatures as high as 1400o F. But during the test, they may only spend a brief time at that full temperature.
Here at Liberty Safe, we try to be as transparent as we can be. For one, we not only list a somewhat abstract fire rating, we include BTU ratings, indicating exactly how much heat a safe can withstand before its fire resistance is compromised. When you view the fire-rating stickers on Liberty gun safes, you will not only see how many minutes of safe fire protection but also how many BTUs of 1200 degree heat our safes can withstand.
What's more, we tend to use thicker steel, more fire board, and better seals than the rest of the industry. Combine that with our 2-piece body design and rigorous testing, and you get a brand of safes that survives more house fires and wildfires than any other.
Liberty Safe takes fire testing seriously: we base our fire testing on standards developed by the 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 1200o during the first 10 minutes of the test. Why? Because the NIST test has shown that fire temperatures hit 1200o during the initial moments of a fire. The 1200o threshold is also a standard set by the NIST study, which determined that it was the average temperature of a house fire.
So at each step of our fire resistance testing, we use established guidelines to ensure that our fire ratings are an actual reflection of the protection our safes offer.
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:
When trying to achieve fire resistance, 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 (fireboard) for safe fire protection. Yes, regular drywall does have some fire-resistance due to its gypsum core and its natural fire-resistant qualities. However, the gypsum core in fire-rated drywall is specially reinforced with glass fiber and other additives to boost its fire-resistance.
When shopping for a fire-resistant safe, you should always ask about the type of fire-board used in building the safe. Fire-rated drywall will feature a UL mark on its backing. Make sure to avoid safes that could be constructed with cheap Chinese drywall that has been cited as a health hazard by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This drywall often contains dangerous compounds, including strontium and sulfur that can corrode your safe’s steel and compromise both its fire-resistance and burglary resistance.
Any gaps in fireboard can endanger your safe’s contents. Hinge cut-outs and other bare metal surfaces can heat up quickly in a fire and cause the temperatures inside your gun safe to rapidly rise above 350 degrees. When this happens, items inside your safe can become damaged or even burst into flames depending on the material. Liberty Safes are designed to cover every gap, including covering hinge cutouts, making sure the whole interior is wrapped in fire protection. This reduces the risk of damage to your firearms, valuables, photos and important documents.
Another concern that customers often have is whether the predrilled hole in the back of most full-sized Liberty Safes has an effect on safe fire protection. This hole is for use with Liberty’s electrical outlet kit. We have fire-tested our safes and found while the outlet kit is not fire-proof, it still helps keep smoke and heat out of the safe. But keep in mind that drilling additional holes in your safe could have an effect on its ability to keep heat and smoke out of your safe.
Where you place your Liberty gun safe in your home can have an impact on its fire protection. When possible, you should avoid placing your safe in any room with there is an increased risk of fire, including rooms with a fireplace, your kitchen or your garage. The safest place to get the most out of your safe’s fire protection is a room that is built on a solid concrete slab. If your home isn’t built on a slab, the next best place to have your gun safe is on the first floor of your home away from foot traffic and any possible fire dangers.
It is never a good idea to improperly store ammunition in your home or have guns loaded when not in use. Heat and ammo do not mix and could create a dangerous situation for you, your family, and firefighters if a fire occurs in your home. Ammo that’s loaded in a gun, such as a revolver is extremely dangerous because the heat can cause rounds to discharge without the gun’s trigger being pulled. Firefighters will back away from an active fire situation if they hear the unmistakable popping sounds of firearms discharging.
Storing your ammo in your safe provides a central location where it can be kept. For added fire protection, you could also store your ammo in a Liberty Safe Ammo Can, which makes it easier to grab your ammo and go if you have advance notice of an impending fire, such as a mandatory evacuation because of a wildfire.
The fire-resistance of Liberty’s gun safes ranges from 30 minutes for our Centurion models, to up to a whopping 2.5 hours with our Presidential models. While it’s difficult to think about the possibility of a fire hitting your home, you need to consider your risks for fire to help you determine how much safe fire protection you need. Consider the following:
Having a fire-resistant safe in your home gives you and your family an additional layer of security. But it takes more than safe fire protection to keep your family safe. Your possessions, like firearms can be replaced, but your family cannot. Decrease the risk of fire in your home by:
One of the most important benefits of safe fire protection is the increased possibility that the contents you keep stored in it will survive a fire. Those items can bring comfort and help make it easier for your family to move on and rebuild their lives after a fire.
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