Understanding the difference between a fire container and a safe
We have all seen the $100 “safes” from big box retailers, but have you actually stopped and thought about why they are so cheap? No? Here are some simple questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re getting the level of security you need.
How heavy is the safe? – If you can easily lift it, then it is only a fire container. Fire containers are made using a thin folded sheet steel shell with a fire retardant filling that will protect your documents and valuables in the case of a fire, but is quite easy for a burglar to access with basic hand tools, or carry away! A security rated safe is quite heavy and generally will need 2 or more people to lift (depending on the size), they are manufactured using 3mm or thicker plate steel and fire rated safes are filled with a heavier grade fire retardant material, keeping your documents and valuables safe from fire AND criminals.
Are there bolt holes in the bottom? – If there are bolt holes in the bottom, then it is a security rated safe, these are put into the safe in the manufacturing process and are properly sealed so you can secure the safe to a suitable surface. Fire containers do not have bolt holes in the base, so that they can maintain a longer time for their fire rating. This is usually a minimum of 2 hours.
Does it have a security/insurance/cash rating? – No? Then it definitely is not a security safe. All safes that are rated to hold cash, or anything of monetary value, must go through testing to earn their rating.
Choosing the correct container for your needs
Choosing the correct container for your needs is simpler than you think, all you need to do is think about what you want to store in it.
If you are just looking for something to store paperwork and all you want is fire protection, then a fire container is all you need. We would recommend using an industry trusted brand like Chubb or Firemaster when choosing a container as they have been in the business for many many years and are proven in the field.
Should you be looking to store anything of value, then you will need a security safe to ensure your valuables are protected. Selecting the right safe comes down to how much value you wish to hold in it. For example, our most popular safe (the CMI Homeguard) has a $10,000 insurance rating, having passed all the requirements needed to hold $10,000 worth of cash, jewellery, precious metals and stones. Safes start at insurance ratings of $5,000 and progress upwards from there.
One key issue to note with insurance rated safes is that they need to be bolted into concrete to satisfy the insurance rating purposes. This is a function of them also being fire rated.
If they are bolted into timber, when that timber burns, it exposes the contents of the safe through the bolt holes.
Own a safe already?
We would strongly recommend getting the safe serviced on an annual basis.
Without regular servicing and maintenance, there is a high likelihood that at some point in time, the locking system may stop working. When this happens, you can’t access the item within the safe that you need. But worse, it becomes a case of getting a locksmith out to open it for you – which comes at a cost of typically at least $600. Whilst locksmiths may be able to pick most door locks very quickly if you’re locked out, breaking into a safe is a much more difficult and time consuming exercise. It is also more than likely that the locksmith will have to open the safe using a destructive process. In that case you are then up for a new safe, typically at least $1,000 for a small high quality safe. So if you have one of the larger safes that cost $4,000 or more, than regular servicing is imperative.