Understanding Safe Fire Protection

Liberty Safes are Top-Rated for Safe Fire Protection

One of the top reasons people choose to purchase Liberty gun safes is for the fire protection they offer. Liberty gun safes are designed to provide their owners with the utmost 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.

Why Choose Liberty Gun Safes

A lot goes into building the best safes for fire protection. We are proud to have been building the best safes in the industry for over 30 years. From purposeful design to superior materials, our gun safes, like the Presidential and Lincoln series are known for their high-quality and security and fire-resistant features. So why should you choose to buy a Liberty gun safe instead of one from another manufacturer? Because we make safe fire protection a top priority and we think you should, too.

Making Sense of Fire Ratings

It’s not enough to slap a sticker on a safe and claim it offers so many minutes of fire protection. Unfortunately, safe fire ratings are not regulated, so manufacturers can (and do) make claims which their safes cannot always live up to. Here’s a few things you should know about safe fire protection ratings.

You might wonder why Liberty safes are rated as being able to stand up to 1200 degrees while others claim to withstand 1400 degrees. This could lead you to believe that a Liberty Safe does not offer as much safe fire protections as those other safes do. And this is exactly what the manufacturers of those safes want you to believe. But we have proof, including an example of a Liberty Safe outperforming another brand during a California wildfire.

Unlike some manufacturers, we focus not only on fire temperatures when calculating fire protection, but also BTU ratings. The calculation of our BTU ratings is a result of adding together the total BTUs from the safe’s multiple fireboard layers and the total BTUs based on the thickness of the steel used to construct the safe’s walls, ceiling and door. 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.

Ratings Based Off Government Testing

Liberty Safe takes fire testing seriously: In fact, so seriously that we base our fire testing on standards that have been developed according to research conducted through the efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce 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 1200 degrees during the first 10 minutes of the test. Why? Because the NIST test has shown that fire temperatures hit 1200 degrees during the initial moments of a fire. Meanwhile, many other safe manufacturers skew their furnace test results by slowing their 1200 ramp-up to 20-30 minutes. They do this to make it appear that their safes can withstand the heat of fire for a longer period of time. Don’t let the results from other manufacturers’ furnace fire tests fool you.

Fire Resistance Depends on Three Key Features

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:

  1. Multiple layers of fire-rated board for insulation throughout the safe, including walls, door, ceiling and door jambs. These layers should be interlinked to prevent any gaps that can allow fire or hot air to reach the contents of the safe.
  2. Thick steel bodies with minimal welds. The thicker, the better when it comes to the steel used to construct a fire-resistant safe. Ideally, the safe should have minimal welds to prevent and potential areas where heat or smoke can seep into the safe.
  3. No weak links, like cheap door seals. A superior, fire-resistant safe needs to have a superior door seal that keeps heat, fire and smoke out. All full-size Liberty gun safes feature a heat-activated, expanding Palusol® door seal.

Importance of Fire Rated Drywall

When it comes to fireboard installation, 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 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.

Optimal Location for Best Fire Protection

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.

How Much Fire Protection Do You Need

The fire-resistance of Liberty’s gun safes ranges from 30 minutes for our Centurion up to a whopping 2.5 hours with our Presidential model. 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:

  • Do you heat your home with a fireplace or wood-burning stove?
  • Do you live in a rural area where a fire might not be discovered right away, or it may take firefighters a long time to arrive?
  • Is your home located near forests where wildfires are common?

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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