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Fire Proof versus Fire Resistant

Fire Insulation - How it Works

Regardless of the confusing claims of "proprietary insulation", "Double-wall", "Triple-Wall", or "Quad-Wall", most home security safes use the same type of fire insulation - gypsum or sheetrock. Yes, the same stuff found in your home. Why is gypsum used over other materials? Because when gypsum is heated over 262°F, it releases water vapor, cooling the safe's interior. Until the moisture is baked out of the gypsum the interior of the safe will stay in the 200°F to 300°F range. This is why gypsum is the best fire insulation for safe applications. There's no magic involved in fire testing. How well a safe performs in a fire test depends on: the amount of gypsum in the safe, how well it is installed (no cutouts hinge pockets), door rigidity and door seal effectiveness.

Due to limitations of today's materials, all safe products are susceptible to heat and fire damage when exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time. Thus, no safe product manufactured today is considered "fire proof". Certain materials can provide resistance to high temperatures for limited periods of time. Safes properly constructed with these materials can be classified as "fire resistant". Depending upon the materials used and the methods of construction, safes can provide varying degrees of fire resistance.

What level of fire resistance do I need?

In a home fire, the peak temperature and duration of the fire can vary depending upon the size of the home, the materials used to construct the home, the response time of firefighters, etc. It is estimated that the typical peak temperature in a home fire ranges from 800 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. The typical time for firefighting authorities to bring a home fire into containment is estimated at 15 to 30 minutes. Paper chars at approximately 402°F. To protect paper documents, the internal temperature of a safe must remain below 350°F while exposed to the conditions of the typical home fire. Thus at a minimum, a safe should provide enough fire resistance to keep the maximum internal temperature of the safe below 350°F, when exposed to external temperatures of 1200 degrees for 30 minutes.