How Does A Liberty Gun Safe Perform in a Real House Fire?
With more than 350,000 house fires happening every year, it’s no wonder so many people want a fire safe box to protect their valuables. This is why many people purchase a full-sized safe. They use it to store vital documents, guns, jewelry, cash… anything they want to protect should they experience the heartbreak of a house fire.
The problem is that not all safes are created equal when it comes to fire protection. So… will the fire protection in your safe work? Watch the video above to see how Liberty Safe stacks up against the competition when it comes to actual house fires.
What Makes a GUN Safe Fire Resistant?
Fires are unpredictable: you never know how hot they’ll burn or how long they’ll last. Because of this, no safe company can ever give you a 100% guarantee that your valuables will be protected from every fire. However, choosing a quality, tested, fire-rated safe can definitely improve your odds.
A safe’s fire rating depends on the thickness of the steel it’s made from, of course. But to offer real fire protection, they typically contain either fire-board or a composite material. Fireboard is also called drywall. It’s made from powdered rock called gypsum that is pressed between two thick sheets of paper to form a board. The drywall is then placed between the exterior steel wall of the safe and the interior wall.
There are two types of drywall: regular (the kind used on the walls inside your home), and an upgraded version with additives that offer better fire protection (like the kind used in your garage). The gypsum used in drywall is non-flammable to begin with, plus water is added to it, which increases its ability to resist high temperatures. As the drywall heats up in a fire, the water is released, and this vapor helps cool down the interior of the safe. And (obviously) choosing a fire-resistant gun safe with upgraded (or type X) drywall gives you all those cooling benefits, as well as improved fire protection thanks to its specialized additives.
Some safes use concrete-based composite material to increase their ability to withstand fire. The composite is also placed between the outer and inner metal walls in the safe. It’s a poor conductor of heat, so it gets hot very slowly, which protects the valuables inside the safe from the heat outside of it. Composite safes are usually really heavy and among the more expensive options on the market.
How Are GUN Safes Fire Tested?
Some safe manufacturers place their safe in a dumpster and ignite trash around it to “test” its fire resistant-power. Others base their fire rating on the type of material used inside the safe, without actually conducting any fire testing (for example, if their safe is lined with drywall, they’ll use the fire rating of the drywall as their fire-resistance claim).
The most reliable fire testing is conducted in an actual furnace, where the safe is heated up to 1200 degrees and thermal couplings are placed inside it to test the temperature. Once the interior temperature surpasses 350 degrees, the test is over and the fire rating is calculated.
But there are a couple of important things to note here: One, you should look into the length of time a safe spent at 1200 degrees during testing. Some companies heat their safes up slowly, buying time and letting them stretch their fire rating. A proper test includes a 10-minute ramp up, so that for the bulk of the time the safe is actually at 1200 degrees.
Second, fire certification in safes is NOT regulated. Even if a company says their safe is fire rated, you need to pay attention to the details. Check out how thick the safe’s steel is and how many layers of drywall it includes. A quick way to compare fire protection among similarly-sized fire-resistant gun safes is to see how heavy each one is: typically the heavier it is, the more likely it is to have better fire protection.
The True Fire Safe Test
Of course, the true test for whether or not the fire protection in a safe works comes from real-life experience. As devastating as a house fire can be, having the contents of your safe protected can be one bright spot amidst all the hardship.
Liberty Safe offers a number of fire-rated safes that start with 30 minutes of protection and go all the way up to 2½ hours. Our safes are furnace-tested, and each fire-resistant gun safe comes with our exclusive Palusol™ heat activated door seal, which expands when heated and sticks to the door edge, protecting the contents inside from heat and smoke damage.
And no other safe manufacturer has more actual testimonials from customers whose safes have survived a fire. Our safes are built better, our fire testing methods are based on scientific data, and we have the results to prove it. For more stories about how Liberty Safes perform during an actual fire, please read Scott’s California Atlas story, Kim Crosser’s "Surviving the Real Fire" story or the Hester family story.