According to data from the National Fire Protection Association, a home fire happened every 93 seconds in 2021. And these fires resulted in billions of dollars of property being lost. If you knew your home was going to catch fire, what would you want to protect?
Protecting your family and pets would be your priority. However, if you owned a Liberty Safe, you could also have the peace of mind that your family’s valuables could also be safe in the event of a home fire.
More than Just Guns
Liberty’s high-end gun safes provide the ultimate in safe fire protection. And because of their superior construction and security rating, they are the best place to keep your valuables protected in the event of a fire or burglary.
An advantage that Liberty gun safes have over other manufacturer’s safes is their versatile interiors. There is plenty of room to store important documents, jewelry, and irreplaceable items in addition to your firearms.
The Presidential, Magnum, Lincoln, Classic Plus and Classic Select Extreme all come with Liberty’s patented 4-in-1 Flex™ interior that allows you to configure your safe to better suit your present and future storage needs. These safes also feature a pull-out velvet lined jewelry drawer (except for the Classic Select Extreme) and a Premium Door Organizer that gives you additional storage pockets. This lets you organize your valuables in a way that makes sense for you.
The door panel includes a special Cool Pocket™ that provides additional fire protection for documents and valuables. And for easy access to your valuables, they come with Automatic Clearview™ interior lighting system to allow you to quickly locate your valuables.
HOW MUCH SAFE FIRE PROTECTION DO I NEED?
You don’t want to think about the possibility of your home going up in flames. But home fires happen all the time. When trying to determine how much safe fire protection you need, you need to consider your risks for a fire:
- Do you live in a fire-prone area where wildfires seem to occur on a frequent basis?
- Do you live in a rural area where, if you’re away, it might take hours before a home fire is discovered?
- Do you live in an older home that does not have the benefits of improved, flame-retardant building materials?
- Is your home heated with a fireplace or wood-burning stove?
Recent Spate of Wildfires
With the rise of serious wildfires across the United States, gun safe owners and potential owners are now wondering how much safe fire protection they need. If you have advance warning that a fire is imminent, making sure your family, pets or livestock are transported to safety is critical. Trying to move your firearms could be the least of your concerns. Still, it’s always a good idea to remove your firearms, valuables and important documents from your home if threatened by fire.
There is documented proof of Liberty safes surviving California’s Carr, Atlas fires and an Arkansas home garage fire. In the Carr fire, the owner of a Liberty Presidential Safe was shocked to see his safe was still intact, but even more surprised the contents inside had been protected from the fire, including treasured family heirlooms, family photobooks, and firearms.
WHAT VALUABLES SHOULD YOU PROTECT IN YOUR SAFE?
What if a fire were to hit your home? Most of your possessions are replaceable. But what about those items that are irreplaceable? Or those that you will need to help put you and your family’s lives back together? Chances are that you already have numerous items in your home that need the protection that a safe can offer. Here are six things that you should keep in a fire resistant safe.
- Insurance Policies
If you have a fire in your home, you’ll need to have access to your homeowner’s policy and the contact information for your agent. You might have this information stored in your phone, which could be destroyed in a fire. Storing it in your bank safe deposit box isn’t going to do you any good if the bank is closed. Once you’re able to re-enter your home after a fire, you can immediately get your policy out of your fire resistant safe.
- Government-Issued Identification
It’s a good idea to keep your family’s original birth certificates and passports in a fireproof safe. These government-issued documents are a hassle to replace. If your driver’s licenses are lost in the fire, you will need to provide these documents to prove your identity before they can be replaced.
- Wills and Powers of Attorney
The attorney who created your last will and testament, living will, health care proxies, or power of attorney for you and/or your spouse will have a copy of these documents. However, if a health emergency occurs, and these documents are needed to convey you or your family’s wishes for medical treatment, there might not be time to wait to get them from your attorney. Keeping these important documents in your fire-resistant home safe ensures that you or your family have them close at hand if needed.
- Irreplaceable Mementos
If you have kids, you know how many special little gifts they have made and given to you over the years. That little paperweight or Christmas ornament might not have monetary value, but it has sentimental value. Your safe can protect personal mementos that you would never be able to replace.
- Family Photos
You might have old family photos and heirlooms that have been passed down through generations or photos of your family that you don’t ever want to lose. You can protect these items and preserve your family memories by storing them in a fire resistant safe.
- Investments, Stock Info, Banking Records and Debt Information
After a fire, you may need to tap into your savings accounts or investments for emergency money. Meanwhile, your bills and loans still need to be paid, even if you’re displaced because of the fire. In the chaos after the fire, you don’t want to risk forgetting about payments and hurting your credit.
You may also have jewelry, coin or stamp collections, and computer backups/DVDs that you want to keep protected in your safe.
Hopefully you will never experience a home fire. But if you do, a fire resistant safe can help protect the items you’ll need to help pick up the pieces.
FIRE PROTECTION THROUGH SMART DESIGN
They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same could be said for the fire protection features that are found in Liberty gun safes. A multi-pronged approach is needed to provide the most effective defense against fire and smoke. When it comes to the level of fire resistance a safe has, it’s not magic, but smart design that gets the job done.
Three Key Ingredients for Better Safe Fire Protection
If you want superior safe fire protection for your firearms and valued possessions, you need to focus on three key ingredients:
- Interlocking layers of UL-rated fireboard (not sheetrock) that covers all bare metal surfaces without gaps.
- Heat-activated, high-quality expanding door seals to keep smoke, heat, and fire out.
- High-quality steel that is 12-gauge or thicker.
More Layers Are Better
Not All Drywall is Created Equal - Most drywall offers some level of fire resistance because of its gypsum core. This naturally occurring mineral is noncombustible, which makes it ideal for use in panel-type building products.
Why is gypsum noncombustible? Because it contains water within its crystals. Almost 21 percent of gypsum’s weight is chemically combined water. And this plays a big part in its ability to act as a protective barrier against fire. When drywall is exposed to fire, the water in the gypsum slowly releases in the form of steam, which effectively works to slow heat transmission.
Even though regular drywall does offer some fire protection, Type X gypsum drywall offers even more fire protection. With a specially reinforced core that contains glass fiber and other additives, Type X drywall is usually 5/8" thick. But more importantly, it has been tested and rated for its fire-resistance by Underwriters Laboratories. Each fire-rated board features a UL mark printed on its back.
One of the most important things to look for when purchasing a safe is to make sure that it does not contain cheap, contaminated drywall that has been manufactured in China. This drywall has been identified by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) because it is contaminated with high levels of strontium and sulfur in its core. Not only is Chinese drywall a health hazard, but it also corrodes metal, which could compromise the construction of safes in which it is used.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rates home safes for their fire resistance. In their ratings, UL determines to what temperatures the safe will stand up to and for how long. Most home safes out in the market provide up to 30 minutes of fire resistance, which is usually enough to protect most contents. You should know that if you want to protect items like computer disks, old tapes or 35mm slides, you will need a safe that can stand up to extreme heat.
For improved fire protection, a gun safe should have multiple layers of UL fire-rated fireboard. But safe buyers should be on guard. Some manufacturers’ safes use non-rated 1/2-inch-thick sheetrock with spacers to give the appearance of 5/8-inch thick fireboard layers. There should be multiple layers interlinked without gaps throughout the safe, including its ceiling, walls, doors and door jambs.
Liberty’s top-rated Presidential Series gun safes are rated for 2.5 hours of fire protection at 1200 degrees. These safes are constructed from 7-gauge steel and contain four layers of fireboard throughout the entire safe.
Meanwhile, an entry-level gun safe that provides 30 minutes of fire protection like the Centurion, is constructed from 14-gauge steel and features three layers of fireboard in its ceiling and door and one in its walls and door jamb.
Attention to Details Makes the Liberty Difference
What good is having multiple layers of fireboard and thick steel walls and door if fire and smoke can leak into the safe around the door? An important part of Liberty’s multi-pronged approach for fire protection is the use of a superior door seal and multi-sided active-locking door bolts that improve our safes’ performance against fire, heat and smoke.
All our full-sized gun safes are equipped with Palusol® expanding door seals. And our higher-end models like the Presidential, Lincoln and Franklin are equipped with a superior expanding Palusol V-seal for extra safe fire protection.
Thicker is Better
Thick steel walls, ceilings and doors help keep fire and heat out of gun safes. The thicker, the better. Liberty’s gun safes range from 14-gauge steel in our entry-level Centurion to the Presidential’s thick 7-gauge steel construction. When shopping for a safe, pay attention to whether the manufacturer mentions how thick the safe’s steel walls and door are. If they do not have it listed in their spec sheets, it’s likely the steel used is 12-gauge or thinner.
DOES THE HOLE IN THE BACK OF THE SAFE AFFECT FIRE PROTECTION?
A lot of thought goes into the design of Liberty Safe’s top-of-the-line safes to offer superior safe fire protection. The best safes for guns’ and valuables’ safe fire protection feature thick steel walls, multiple layers of fireboard throughout, heat-activated expanding door seals and have been fire rated.
With all that effort to keep fire, heat and smoke out, it is only natural to have concerns about any hole that could allow them in. So, what about the hole in the back of your safe that allows for the addition of an outlet kit?
Should You Be Concerned?
If you own a fire-resistant gun safe from Liberty Safe, you can rest assured that all safe models that feature a built-in electric hole have been tested for safe fire protection. Our tests have shown there is no measurable heat gain through our current electrical outlet kit when it is properly installed. While our outlet kit is not fireproof, it still helps keep smoke and heat out of your safe during the initial onset of a house fire.
When an electrical outlet kit has not been installed or does not come standard with your safe, the hole is covered with a solid metal cover. Depending on the model year of the safe, the fireboard in the hole area should also be intact.
What About Other Holes in Safes?
Liberty Safes also come equipped with pre-drilled holes in their floors. These make it easier to anchor them to the floor (as recommended) for added security using our optional anchoring kit. If you have not had your safe previously professional installed and anchored, these holes can be found by lifting the carpeted interior on the floor of your safe.
While it is possible to drill over holes in your safe, it is not a good idea. Any other holes in your safe could jeopardize its security and safe fire protection features. But most importantly, changes or modifications to your safe that affect its intended use could void your safe’s warranty.
Warranted Liberty Safes
Besides superior security and safe fire protection, each Liberty safe is warranted to be free from defects in material and workmanship for as long as you own your safe. If your safe experiences any defect in materials or workmanship, we will repair or replace your safe at no cost. And if your warranted safe is damaged from a fire, break-in attempt or break-in, we will also repair or replace it at no cost if the damage is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance.
WHAT GOES INTO DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF SAFE FIRE PROTECTION?
It is not enough to say that the gun safes you build provide a certain amount of protection from fire. You need to be able to back up that claim with how you determined those amounts. At Liberty Safe, we use a superior standard in how we determine safe fire protection that not all other manufacturers follow.
Three Main Characteristics Needed for Reliable Safe Fire Protection
The most reliable safes for fire protection have three main construction characteristics. They:
- Are made with strong steel that is at least 12 gauge or thicker
- Have multiple, interlocking layers of UL-rated fireboard
- Feature expanding door seals to keep out fire, heat and smoke
An easy way to identify whether a safe is made of thick steel and multiple layers of fireboard is how heavy the safe is and how thick its walls are. But you should always check to be certain that the manufacturer uses UL-rated fireboard instead of regular sheetrock that does not provide as much fire protection.
The layers of fireboard inside the safe must completely cover all bare metal surfaces, including door jambs and interior hinge components. Any gaps within fireboard coverage can allow heat to seep in and raise the interior temperature within the safe to damaging temperatures above 350 degrees.
Liberty uses heat-activated, expanding Palusol seals on all our full-size gun safes. Our upscale models, like the Presidential and Lincoln feature expanding Palusol v-seals for extra safe fire protection.
Tried and True Fire-Testing Standards
Liberty Safe bases its fire-testing standards on information gained from NIST full-scale home fire testing. That testing has shown without a doubt that the temperatures in a home fire quickly escalate during the first 10 minutes, as the fire flares up and spreads. This serves as proof for our reason to test our safes’ fire protection by ramping up the furnaces where testing occurs to 1200 degrees within the first 10 minutes of our fire tests.
Not all safe manufacturers do this. Instead, they ramp up to 1200 degrees after 20-30 minutes to prove that their safes will hold up longer in a fire.
Calculating what BTUs a safe can withstand is also a consideration that should be addressed when determining safe fire protection. This is a more accurate and scientific way to measure heat from a fire. Liberty Safe takes the extra step of calculating and including each safe’s BTU tolerance on its fire-rating label that you will find on the inside of every full-size gun safe we make.
There are a lot of safes on the market claiming they provide superior safe fire protection. But Liberty has more testimonials from real-life customers whose safes have survived some of the most devastating wildfires in our country.
LIBERTY SAFE FIRE RATINGS
If you take a look at all the gun safes available on the market, you will see a lot of claims of fire ratings claiming 60-120 minutes. Anyone can slap a sticker on a cheaply made safe and claim it will protect whatever you place inside of it from burning up in a fire. While chances are that most people will never experience a fire in their home, are you willing to gamble with your family’s safety and comfort in case your home does catch fire? Here are a few things you should know about fire ratings and how they pertain to actual safe fire protection.
Higher Temperature Ratings
When shopping for a gun safe, you might see claims that a safe is rated to up to 1400 degrees. You might think this safe is superior to a Liberty safe because ours are rated up to 1200 degrees.
That is exactly what some of those safe manufacturers want you to think.
But what you probably don’t know is manufacturer fire claims are not regulated. So you might think you are buying a better safe, only to be shocked and dismayed later if a fire occurs.
FULL-SCALE HOME SAFE FIRE TEST
Liberty Doesn’t Fool Around with Fire Testing
When it comes to safe fire protection, there’s no room to fool around. Liberty Safe bases its fire testing on standards developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These standards were developed through a “full-scale house fire” experiment conducted through a partnership with federal agencies, including the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) and U.S. Fire Administration plus private industries, including the National Fire Protection Association and American Re-Insurance.
Experiment Focused on Real-Life Conditions
NIST’s full-scale house fire test was performed using a two-story, single-family home constructed with a wood frame. Walls and ceilings were built from gypsum wallboard. The home had four bedrooms, two baths, basement and attached garage. Hardwood flooring was installed throughout the home, except for vinyl flooring in areas where you would normally expect, like the kitchen and bathrooms.
Two walls in the living were covered with laminated pine paneling. The home was furnished as many homes are often furnished. Along with a mixture of gasoline and two-cycle engine fuel for a liquid accelerant, the furnishings were chosen with the intent of fueling the fire that was set in the home’s living room.
NIST’s test was conducted under controlled conditions to mimic what exactly happens during a home fire. The initial fire was set by igniting an open book of matches in the living room couch.
This fire quickly spread to ignite the liquid accelerant that was poured in the room. Temperatures throughout the room were monitored by special thermocouples placed from floor to ceiling in the living room and adjacent dining room.
Don’t Be Fooled by Fire Ratings
While most fires in homes don’t begin by igniting two-cycle engine fuel, the full-scale house fire experiment provided some very important information. One of the facts uncovered is that within the first few minutes of a house fire, temperatures quickly soar to 1200 degrees.
So why is that information so important? Many safe manufacturers base their safe fire protection certification on fire tests that aren’t based on how fast temperatures actually heat up in a real fire. In fact, many slow the ramp up to 1200 degrees over 20 to 30 minutes. They do this to improve the length of time their safes survived in the furnace at “1200 degrees.”
Liberty Safe does not play this game. We ramp up the heat to 1200 degrees within ten minutes, which is very similar to NIST’s home fire test scenario for fire-rated safes. So, in a real fire, you can expect that the contents in your Liberty gun safe will have the best possible fighting chance of survival.
We have proof of how well our safes stand up to fire from real customers, and we’re proud to offer that quality to you every day.