Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Look at 10 Tips for Buying a Safe

Safes protect vital records and backup media from earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and other disasters that destroy businesses each year. The costly affects of a disaster can be minimized with proper planning. The right fire safe will protect your documents and maintain business continuity.
So you know need a fireproof safe. Great, which one?
Product knowledge puts power into your hands as a consumer.
Here are 10 tips to help ensure you are getting the right protection, at the right price.

1. What are your storage needs?
When deciding what type of fire safe to buy, first decide your storage needs. Most people don’t realize there are 2 types of fire safes on the market today. There are those for paper document storage (insurance papers, wills, checks, receipts, etc.) and those for data storage and computer media. Once you’ve decided what you are storing, then you can determine other factors like the type of lock, how many hours of fire protection you need, price range and interior accessories.

Remember, you can’t store computer data in a fire safe rated for paper—it will melt!

2. Which fire rating do you need?
Fire Safes carry different fire ratings. For the storage of computer media you must have a safe with a UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) 125 or UL 72 fire rating. Without this rating, your media (CD’s, DVD’s, LTO tapes, DAT tapes, microfiche, film negatives, etc.) will melt in the event of a fire. In addition, media safes are designed so that the humidity inside the safe does not reach more than 80% during fire conditions. Document storage safes carry the UL 350 fire rating, preventing documents from charring. The safe is also designed to prevent documents from becoming brittle and unusable in extreme heat.

3. UL Listed vs. UL Rated and UL Tested?
What is the difference between UL Listed, Rated and Tested? If the product does not say UL Listed or UL Rated it means it has not passed the UL standards. UL Tested means that it has not passed the full barrage of testing. This is merely a sales ploy. Buyer beware. Check out our online resource library for the details on UL Ratings.

4. Will your floor support the weight of the safe?
One thing to take into consideration is whether or not your floor has the ability to support the weight of the safe. If you are purchasing a large safe and it is going to be placed on an elevated floor it is a good idea to have an engineer do an inspection to make sure that the building can support the load.

5. How many hours of fire protection do you need? 1 hour? 2 hours? 3 hours?
The average fire burns at around 800°F for about 20 minutes. The UL test for both UL 125°F and UL 350°F ratings is performed for 1 hour at 1700°F. In the 130 year history of Schwab Corp (now Sentry Safe) they have never had a product fail, and they only manufacture 1 hour safes. Fire King, manufacturer of 1 hour, 2 hour, and 3 hour safes, has also never had a product fail in their 50 year history. So what does this mean? Unless you are in an area that is a substantial distance from your local fire department, history shows that a 1 hour fireproof safe provides more than adequate protection.

6. Do you need the extra security of burglary or impact ratings?
Keep in mind, the fireproof rating is just one of the UL tests that these safes go through. Some are also tested and UL Listed to protect against theft and building collapse.

Rigorous burglary tests are conducted in which UL technicians use an assortment of picking tools, hand tools, grinding tools, mechanical tools and electrical tools to try to break into the safe. Higher ratings indicate the safes can withstand multiple attempted burglaries and longer break in periods. RSC (Residential Security Container), B Rated and C Rated safes are tested for 5 minutes, TL-15 are tested for 15 minutes and TL-30 are tested for 30 minutes. Visit our Burglary Rating Resource Section.

Safes are submitted to an impact test. This test is designed to replicate a 3 story building collapse. Immediately after going through the fireproof test, within 2 minutes of being heated to 1700°F, the safe is raised to a height of 30 ft. and is dropped onto a pile of bricks on a concrete base. If the safe remains closed and does not spill its contents it has passed the UL impact test.

7. Which interior accessory options do you need?
Most safes are priced with empty interiors because everyone has a different storage need. From fixed shelves to roll out multimedia drawers, there is an interior accessory designed to accommodate virtually every kind of media, document or valuable.

8. Do you require high security locks?
Combination locks are the general standard when it comes to safes, but there are a number of options if you require additional security. Deciding which one is right for you will depend on the level of security you are looking to attain. Some available options include:
• Group 2 Combination Lock (standard)
• Group 1R Combination Lock (manipulation proof)
• Group 2 Combination Lock with Key Locking Dial
• Key Locking Handle
• Digital Combination Lock

Each high security lock has it’s Pros and Cons―know your options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Click here for the Schwab Corp Fireproof Safe Lock Options

9. Will you need a specialized delivery service?
All safe prices include free dock to dock delivery. This means that the safe will be delivered directly to your loading dock for you to remove. Inside delivery service is a generally advised option considering some safes weigh over 2,000 lbs. For inside delivery service address the following question for a more accurate delivery quote:
• Do you have a loading dock?
• Are there any stair steps involved?
• Is there a freight elevator?
• Do you require floor protection?
• What are the doorway dimensions?

Accurate answers allow the inside delivery company adequate preparation. Additional charges may apply.

10. What does UL 125 or UL 350 actually mean?
These are the 2 tests that UL has to determine fireproof capability. Media begins to melt at 140°F. During the UL 125 test the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125°F.
Paper documents begin to char at 400°F. The UL 350 test assures that the internal temperature will not exceed 350°F.

More information on safes can be found online at:

Below are examples of the leading brand names of safes as a reference point: (Now Sentry Safe)

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