Will A Fireproof Safe Survive When A House Burns Down?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

With the spike in wildfires throughout the world in recent years, having a reliable fireproof safe has become more important than ever. A fireproof safe is the best and sometimes the only way to keep your most important possessions safe in case of a fire. A good fireproof safe can keep important documents, valuables, and sentimental momentos safe when an unexpected fire lands at your doorstep. But if you are understandably worried about a potential fire event, you might wonder how well a fireproof safe will stand up if your house burns down.

A safe’s ability to survive when your home burns down depends on several factors, including the quality of the safe. You want a safe with a certified UL rating to last a minimum of one hour in an extreme fire event. The quality of the safe, the items inside, and the length of the fire also impact if the belongings inside your fireproof safe will last through a fire.

If you are starting to worry more about the risk of a fire reaching your home, investing in a fireproof or fire-resistant safe is a good idea. But not all fireproof safes are the same, and some are better than others at keeping your property safe. And while “fireproof” might seem like a simple term, not all fireproof safes are actually fireproof. Even the best fireproof safe has its limits. So, if you want to know how well fireproof safes work, and what type of safe you should purchase for your home, keep reading.

How Long Fireproof Safes Last In Fires

If you have a fireproof safe, you might wonder if it will last through an intense fire. After all, some fires reach over 1,000 degrees. Can anything withstand such heat? The answer is that while fireproof safes can be very effective at keeping items safe, they can only last so long. In general, safes that are UL certified, or otherwise certified in the USA to be fireproof, can keep your items under 350 degrees for upwards of one hour.

Sometimes, however, a fire can last hours or even days. In most cases, even some of the best safes simply can’t hold up to this type of heat. This is when where you locate your safe can be helpful, as placing it in a cooler area along a wall can potentially keep it cooler for longer.

Is A Fireproof Safe Really Fireproof?

Yes and no. A fireproof safe can be fireproof, but very few home safes are fireproof in all fire circumstances. To better understand whether or not a fireproof safe will protect you in your time of need, you need to understand all the factors involved.

Five Factors That Impact If A Fireproof Safe Will Survive A Fire

1. The UL Rating Of The Safe

Most fireproof safes, at least the good ones, should have a UL rating. A UL rating stands for “Underwriter Laboratories,” which is a safety and product testing certification for products. You want to make sure your safe has one of these ratings, as this is a way to sort legitimate fireproof safes from less reliable ones.

Make sure the safe has a UL rating of at least UL Class 350 1-hour. This means it should keep the items you choose to keep inside the fireproof safe under 350 degrees for one hour. The tricky thing is that often fires burn hot for longer than one hour. Finding a safe that can withstand high heat for several hours can be challenging and expensive.

2. How Hot The Fire Is

Not all fires are of the same intensity. A mild kitchen fire can result in lots of smoke but the few flames will likely burn at a lower temperature than a long-lasting fire with hot coals. You cannot predict how intense a fire will be, but the resulting heat will determine how well the safe works.

3. How Long The Fire Lasts

The length of the fire also impacts how effective a fireproof safe will be when your home burns down. A rapid burning fire might be devastating and dangerous, but it will likely keep your fireproof safe intact. Your home and its fire protection, including home sprinklers, also impact how hot a fire is likely to burn. A slow and hot-burning fire, on the other hand, can compromise even a quality safe.

4. The Contents Of The Safe

The contents of the safe also matter. This is because fireproof safes usually aim to keep the contents under 350 degrees. This is an important temperature, as over this temperature, paper and documents can start to burn up. But even below 350 degrees, items like external drives and other electronics might be compromised.

5. The Quality (Or Lack Thereof) Of The Fireproof Safe

There are many fireproof safe manufacturers out there. They do not all make the same quality products. The age of the safe can also make a difference. Some older safes might not have the durability and advanced materials of newer fireproof safes. Naturally, higher-quality brands are likely to withstand harsher conditions. This is why researching and checking things like UL certifications are so important when shopping for a reliable fireproof safe.

Tips For Choosing The Right Fireproof Safe

  • Consider The Contents Of The Safe: Think about what you are going to put inside your safe. This is likely to impact the type of fireproof safe you need. If you put in valuables, you want to splurge on a safe that can withstand high heat for a long time. You will also want a safe that is burglar-proof. After all, fire-proof and theft-proof are not always the same thing.
  • What Is The Fire Rating?: Check the UL rating, and read the reviews. Make sure the safe you are looking at will meet your needs. Knowing that you're buying a safe that has been tested to withstand prolonged hot conditions can help set your mind at ease when you place your valuables inside.
  • How Long Your Safe Claims To Protect Your Belongings From Fire: Think hard about how long you need your safe to keep your documents safe. This can depend on where the safe is, and also the type of home you have. If you have a stand-alone single-story home, a fire likely won’t burn as long as it would in a 20-story building.
  • Size Of The Safe Matters: Is your fireproof safe tiny? If so, you can always take it with you when you pack a go-bag. If, on the other hand, you have a giant fireproof safe, then the odds are you are putting lots of faith in this device. It is likely to house lots of valuables. Therefore, you should ensure it is built to withstand the toughest possible conditions your home might face during a fire.

Summing Up If A Fireproof Safe Can Survive A House Fire

A fireproof safe is often able to keep your belongings safe in the unlikely event your home burns down. There are, however, factors that impact how well a fireproof safe will hold up in a fire. The quality of the safe and its UL rating greatly impact whether or not it will hold up. The intensity of the fire and how long intense heat lasts also have a major impact on whether or not the safe will last. Make sure you choose reputable safes that are certified to last at least one hour in extreme heat.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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