People buy safes to protect documents and valuables from fire and theft. When you sell a home safe, find out what you,the customer, wants to protect. Although some fire safes offer sufficient security for valuables, not all maximum security safes have maximum fire protection.
Fire safes designed for home use should at least provide protection for the contents for up to one-half hour at 1550 degrees F; light commercial safes should provide the same protection for up to two hours.
According to Underwriters Laboratories’ standards, a fire safe should retain an inside temperature below 350 degrees F (the temperature at which paper chars) for an hour or more. This rating also includes requirements that the safe be resistant to rupture or explosion at these temperatures. The fire rating must appear on the safe. The National Fire Prevention Association has found that a fire-rated safe performs four times better than a non-rated safe in a fire.
Security of a safe, beyond its fire protection, comes from a combination of retractable and stationary bolts that prevents the safe door from being removed by knocking off or removing the hinges.
Besides fire-rated safes, there are also fire-rated security chests and files in a variety of sizes with key locks and interior organizational features.
There are several locking mechanisms for safes, the most common being a dial combination of three or four digits with a handle or latch for retracting the bolts.
Additional security can be provided if the safe also has a built-in key lock that functions independently of the dial combination. This kind of safe also permits ‘key only’ access when necessary and provides double-lock security at other times.
Another form of locking mechanism is an electronic digital lock in which the dial combination is replaced by a four-digit, changeable, pushbutton combination. The advantage is faster and easier access to the contents without sacrificing overall security.
In addition to freestanding safes, there are safes that can be mounted in walls or sunk into concrete floors. There are also vault doors that can be installed inside existing closet doors to turn a standard closet into a vault. However, it should be noted that these safes are not fire rated.
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