Gun Safes and Fire: Seals Are Important

Just as important (maybe more important) as the insulation used in gun safes, is the type and number of seals used around the door.  Some manufacturers claim to have terrific fire ratings – numbers made up based on the amount of drywall they use – but then poor fitting doors and inadequate seals allow heat and smoke to rush to in during a fire.


This portion of a fire test graph illustrates my point perfectly.  It comes from Intertek ETL Laboratories, an independent testing lab.  Results were released this January for fire tests done on four gun safes in December 2013.  Temperature is shown on the vertical axis, time on the horizontal.  During the test, the furnace temperature was raised to 1200F in 8 minutes, then held steady until the end.  Temperature sensors were located inside each unit 7” from the top.  A safe is considered to fail when it’s inside temp hits 350F.

Looking at the test curves from right to left, the curve furthest to the right is for an American Security BF gun safe.  This safe lasted for 126 minutes before the internal temp reached 350F – over two hours!  I cannot name the other manufacturers here, but they are very well known.  The next curve to the left is a top-of-the-line unit with a 2.5 hour “fire rating”.  Few companies claim to have a fire rating that high, but when this safe was tested by ETL it failed in only 69 minutes – less than half what the manufacturer claims.  The next safe has a 60-minute rating but it lasted only 47.5 minutes.  The final unit is said to have a two-hour rating but, incredibly, it failed in just 9 minutes!!  That’s some kind of great fire protection, isn’t it?

Next time:  Explanation for the successful test and the failures.