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Prepping & Survival

The Best Fireproof Safes of 2024

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A fire is one of the scariest and most devastating things that can happen to your home or business. You can lose priceless heirlooms and important documents if they’re not protected by a fireproof safe. But, it’s important to realize that “fireproof” is not a guarantee and safes with that designation vary widely in their ability to protect your belongings. 

To find out the reality of fireproof safes, I talked to a professional safecracker who is often hired to open safes after a fire or attempted break in. His years of experience with safes of all makes and models helped guide the picks you’ll see below. I also did an experiment where I put an inexpensive safe into a fire to see the protection it provided. Here are my picks for the best fireproof safes.

How to Choose a Fireproof Safe 

I interviewed safecracker Charlie Santore of Santore & Son Lock & Safe, to get his perspective on safe security and fireproofing. Santore is the person people call when they’re locked out of their safe, often after a criminal has tried breaking into it or after a fire. He has also worked with law enforcement to open safes after an attempted robbery. In addition to cracking safes he services them and has had hands-on experience with a lot of models. Here’s what he had to say. 

If you’re expecting a thief to pick a lock or use gadgets to open your safe, you’ve watched too heist movies. 

“In the modern wave of burglary and crime, people don’t run around manipulating safes open. Most burglaries right now are people using cutting wheels, abrasive tools, grinders, concrete saws, and that kind of stuff. So at the end of the day, a secure lock winds up being a very small part of a bigger problem,” he says.

According to Santore, criminals are using cheap angle grinders with abrasive wheels to cut openings in safes. He says most consumer safes have walls made of drywall, for fire protection, sandwiched between thin steel, which can be cut through in minutes.  

If you look at most safes you can buy at bix box stores, even the pricey ones, they’re made of 12 to seven gauge steel. Consider that seven gauge steel is only 3/16-inch thick and 14 gauge is even thinner at 5/64-inch thick. So you can see how it wouldn’t be difficult to cut through that and make a new door. 

Safes can receive a burglary rating, which is important for insurance and it means the safe has gone through pretty rigorous testing. There’s a lot of designations and varied testing protocols for each rating. You can read about them here. Basically you want to avoid safes that have a B, C, or B/C rating because no testing is required and they basically mean the safes have a lock. Look for safes with a UL RSC, TL-15, TL-30, TL-30X6, or TRTL-30X6 rating. Those ratings mean the safe has gone through actual testing and can protect your guns to a certain standard. Without going to a vault, the most secure is the TRTL-30X6, and those safes will run you $10,000 to $25,000. There is a used market for high-security safes, which can save you some money. 

Features of a Secure Safe

  • Thick steel walls 
  • A burglary rating 
  • Ability to be bolted down 

What to Look for in a Fireproof Safe

Even if your dreams of stopping criminals with a safe have been dashed, you might still be holding out hope it will at least protect your belongings from fire. The reality is that it depends on the fire’s duration and intensity.

Santore lives in California and is often hired to open safes that have been through devastating forest fires. 

“If you’re in a place where there’s a raging fire, and no one’s gonna get out there for hours or half a day, I don’t care whether the safe is rated for hours, it’s just not going to make it out of there,” Santore says. “If you’re in a residential area, and the fire department gets there in 10 minutes, your stuff is probably going to be fine. There might be some smoke damage, but it’s gonna be fine.”

He doesn’t recommend a solid steel safe if you’re concerned about fire. Look for a composite construction that has some type of fire retardant insulation. “A lot of them use a fire activated door seal that, when it heats up, expands and seals it off from heat and smoke,” he says. The seal also helps keep water and smoke out of the safe. 

Fireproof Ratings

You’ll see safes listed with a fireproof rating for a specified temperature and amount of time. These ratings are either done by independent labs or two popular certification companies — Korea Industrial Standards and Underwriters Laboratories.

While the exact testing differs, the basic idea is that a safe is placed into a burn chamber where the temperature reaches 1,350 to 2,000 degrees. A temperature probe inside the safe measures how long it takes for the internal temperature to reach 350 degrees—for perspective, paper will char at 387 degrees and combust at 450 degrees.

Korea Industrial Standards and Underwriters Laboratories go beyond fire endurance and include impact and explosion resistance tests. The UL test is considered the most rigorous and I recommend looking for safes with their rating. 

UL has several rating scales but their 350 scale is the standard. 

  • UL 350/One Hour Rating: The internal temperature of the safe doesn’t exceed 350 degrees when it is exposed to 1700 degrees for one hour. 
  • UL 350/Two Hour Rating: The internal temperature of the safe doesn’t exceed 350 degrees when the safe is exposed to 1850 degree temperatures for two hours. 

Consider that a house fire typically burns at 1,100 to 2,000 degrees, and can reach over 1,000 degrees in just 4 minutes. So the tested temperatures are at the extreme end of a home fire. 

What to Look for in a Fireproof Safe

  • Walls made from steel and insulation material 
  • A heat-activated door seal 
  • A UL fireproof rating 

To learn more, rear our full story on how to choose a safe.

The Best Fireproof Safes: Reviews and Recommendations

Best for Home: SentrySafe Waterproof and Fireproof Safe

See It

Key Features

  • Fire Rating: UL Classified to endure one hours at 1700°F 
  • ETL Verified to withstand a 15-foot fall during a fire and remain closed
  • ETL Verified for 24 hours of protection in water up to 8 inches deep
  • Four live-locking bolts
  • Must use key and combination to open 
  • Pry-resistant hinge bar
  • Locking drawer
  • Interior light
  • Bolt down hardware
  • Uses four AAA batteries
  • Exterior: 16.3 x 19.3 x 17.8 inches; The door requires 14.75 inches of clearance to fully open 
  • Interior: 12.6 x 11.9 x 13.8 inches
  • 1.23 cubic foot capacity
  • Weight: 86.69 pounds

Pros

  • Easy to use digital combo lock 
  • Decent fire and flood protection 
  • Affordable 
  • Not too heavy 

Cons

  • Not much interior space 

If you’re looking for a quality safe to keep jewelry, documents, and other small items in, this model from Sentry Safe is one of the best options under $300. It’s gone through rigorous testing for fire, water, and impacts: It’s UL certified for fire and ETL certified for impact and water resistance. Should you keep $100,000 in cash in this $290 safe, no. But, without going to a full on professional jewelers safe it provides a good level of protection without breaking the bank. 

At 90 pounds, one or two people can carry it up stairs. A hand truck makes easy work of moving it around the house too. 

To open the safe, you’ll need to turn the key, and then enter the combination. That makes getting into the safe slow, but it is secure. You’re not going to fit a ton of items into the 12.6 x 11.9 x 13.8 inch space, but for things like pistols, jewelry, documents, and other small valuables it is sufficient. The locking drawer slides out and the top lifts open. The door has pockets for additional items too.  

I think this safe will meet most home safe needs and it provides a good compromise between affordability, portability, and security. 

If you want a faster entry option with similar specs, SentrySafe makes a fireproof safe with a biometric lock. This safe is also available with a two hour fire rating, which bumps the price to $400.

Read Next: Best Gun Safes

Best for Documents: SentrySafe Fire/Water File


See It

Key Features

  • Fire Rating: UL Certified for 30 minutes at 1550 degrees
  • ETL Verified to protect against flood damage for 72 hours
  • Key lock
  • Holds 40 standard hanging folders
  • Dimensions: 14.3 x 15.5 x 13.5 inches
  • Weight: 38.85 pounds

Pros

  • Designed for documents
  • Easy access
  • Water and fire protection 

Cons

  • Key lock is easily defeated 
  • Would benefit from carry handles 

If you need a place to store things like birth certificates, passports, and your kids drawings, this is a simple fireproof option. It’s not going to stop a determined criminal from stealing the goods inside. But, it will protect your items from fire for up to 30 minutes. You could also put the most important documents inside a fireproof envelope and then inside this safe for extra protection. 

The best feature of this product is that it’s designed to work with hanging folders, which makes it functional for organization. It’s a safe that works with your life as well as protects your belongings. 

Best UL-Certified, Small Safe: FireKing KR Series


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Key Features 

  • UL two-hour fire rated (1,638 degrees) and impact tested 
  • UL RSC burglary rated
  • Electronic lock
  • Weight: 635 pounds
  • Outside Dimensions: 41.25 x 25.5 x 28.87 inches
  • Inside Dimensions: 30.25 x 18.5 x 21 inches
  • Price: $3,800

Pros

  • Top-tier UL certification 
  • Easy access 
  • Secure 

Cons

If you want excellent fire protection you can’t avoid safes that are heavy and expensive. It’s just a function of the materials used in these safes. Also keep in mind that these safes are delivered by freight and those companies usually don’t bring safes into your home or up stairs. 

In addition to its impressive fire rating this safe is also RSC rated for burglary. So it’s been tested for forced entry with tools. It uses an electronic lock for fast entry and has a lot of space for valuables.

Best Document Bag: The Good Stuff Fireproof Bag


See It

Key Features 

  • UL certified 
  • Protects up to 2,000 degrees 
  • Comes in five sizes
  • Water resistant

Pros

  • Good fire protection for a document bag
  • Lightweight 

Cons

  • Won’t protect documents in a fire for an extended period of time

This fireproof document bag is a great way to transport documents or cash. It will keep them protected from flames and water as you travel. If you have a fireproof safe with a lower fireproof rating, you can use it in conjunction with a document bag to boost the fire resistance. 

How I Chose the Best Fireproof Safes

My interview with Santore shed light on the reality of safe security and fire protection. His information combined with my hands-on fireproof safe test helped guide my choices. I also own the two SentrySafe models discussed in the review, and have hands-on experience with their functionality. 

Testing a Fireproof Safe

Going off the standard structure fire response time of less than 11 minutes, I put a cheap safe ($41) into a fire for ten minutes. This particular safe states a fire proof rating of 20 minutes at an unspecified temperature. A little diesel fuel, wood, and fire starters got the blaze going and it wasn’t long until the plastic components started melting. Then I heard pops coming from inside the safe, which I later found out were the batteries. At 10 minutes, the safe was looking crispy and the plumes of black smoke had my neighbors concerned. So I used a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water to put out the fire. 

Opening the lock conventionally wasn’t possible because it was melted, but a pry bar opened it in seconds. The piece of paper on the inside was burned in one corner and it was fully saturated with water. The water got inside the safe because as the plastic components connecting the door melted, it revealed holes. If that had been an important document it would have been ruined by even this small fire and the water used to put it out.

The big takeaways are that a cheap safe isn’t much protection against fire or theft. It’s best to stick with safes that have gone through serious testing to achieve a fireproof rating from a reputable lab.  

Final Thoughts on the Best Fireproof Safes

If fire is a serious concern and you have valuables to protect, buy a UL 350/two-hour safe. If the safe is going to be stored on an upper level of a home, also buy one with the added impact testing. If you just want some type of fire protection for your belongings the SentrySafe options above will protect your items as long as the fire is extinguished in under one hour. 

Like most products, there are trade offs and compromises to be made when selecting a safe. Buy the best you can afford and one that matches the value of the items it protects.

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