Having your valuables protected against theft and fire is one of the major benefits of owning a quality Rhino or Bighorn safe. All Rhino and Bighorn fire lined safes utilize heat activated door seals and one or more layers of fire rated sheetrock to provide the desired level of protection. Since the vast majority of safe brands use sheetrock for fire protection we suggest you look at the weight of the safe and the thickness of the fire protection when comparing.
Some Rules of Thumb
- One layer of 1/2″ thick fire rated sheetrock in the body and two in the door is about the minimum we would suggest if fire protection is important to you. With an intumescent door seal and this arrangement you’ll probably get 30 minutes of protection in a house fire. Two layers of 5/8″ thick sheetrock in body and door with an intumescent door seal will give you about 50 to 70 minutes of protection in a house fire. When exposed to heat (in a house fire) the intumescent door seal expands to fill any small gaps between the door and the body of the gun safe, sealing out smoke, gases, and heat.
- Safe manufacturers use fire ratings to give their customers an idea of how long they can expect their safe to last in a fire before its contents will be ruined. For example, if a safe’s rating is 1200 degrees/45 minutes, the safe was exposed to temperatures up to 1200 degrees. After 45 minutes, the internal temperature of the safe reached a certain “failure” temperature. Most companies use 350 degrees as their “failture” temperature, because this is the temperature at which paper begins to darken.
Which fire rating do I need?
- As a consumer, you must decide what level of fire rating is appropriate for your situation. Some determining factors are: fire department response time, type and amount of fuels near the safe, and heat tolerance of the items stored in it. Most house fires can reach temperatures of 1200 to 1500 degrees. Paper documents and wood start to change color at approximately 275 to 300 degrees. The average person may store rifles, photos, jewelry, or documents in their safe which may be located in the garage. What’s in your garage now? Most garages are full of stored items, most of which are flammable. If you have a car parked in the garage, the gas tank is a potential source of fuel that you must consider. In such a case, we recommend a safe with a fire rating of 1200 degrees for a period of 60 minutes or more. For other locations in your house with minimal fuel in the vicinity, a 1200 degree for 30 minute fire rating may be adequate, depending on the safe company’s fire rating rating parameters.
There are many factors to consider when determining which fire rating is best for your needs. Find more information about Fire Protection on our Frequently Asked Questions Page