Destroyed "2hr Fire Rated" Gun Safes

Get the Best Fireproof Home Safe

The Carr fire in Redding, CA destroyed many homes. It also destroyed many so called "fire safes."Destoryed Fire Safe

But why? The safe shown in the picture was a fire safe that claimed to have a 2-horu fire rating, yet it was completely destroyed.

But then...further down the road was an AMSEC 2 hour fire rated safe. Still standing. Charred and barely recognizable from the outside, but standing.

What would the locksmith find when he opened this safe? A pile of ashes or it's content?

The best fireproof safes are those rated by independent labs like Underwriter Laboratories (UL) or ETL. Independent ratings ensure the safe's perform to specification. Internal benchmarks or fire-resistant claims may not always prove reliable. In a test involving four major brands, three safes failed to meet their fire performance rating.

Fire Damaged AMSEC Safe

What to Look For in a Fire Rated Safe

This AMSEC safe is as high-end as it gets, so are their fire rating (see Fire Ratings Explained).

The AMSEC line that withstood the Carr fire was an independently ETL certified fire safe. 

This TL-rated safe was rated for 2 hours at 1200 degrees.

Now most home safes don't need to be 2-hour fire rated. In fact, 30 minutes is sufficient for many home safes.

Home fires burn at about 1100 degrees. Once the house is at the temperature the fire department is usually there putting out the blazes and further cooling the blaze. So a UL 30 minute fire rated safe is usually good enough for homes under 1,500 sf.

But this was a major forest fire. Home were burnt to the ground. In our article "How Much Fire Rating Do You Need in a Safe," we mention both the location and size of the home as factors that dictate what you need.

Locksmith Drills Fire Damaged Safe Open

In a large fire, like this blaze in California, the safe can be exposed to the flames for much longer than an hour. 

This particular TL rated safe is built like a tank. They are designed to protect content and can cost a few thousand dollars. My best guess is that this safe was probably in the neighborhood of $5,000. It's so secure, it took this California locksmith 3 1/2 hours to drill it open!

What Was Found in the AMSEC Fire Damaged Safe

Once the locksmith got in this charred, fire exposed safe open, what did he find?

The entire content of this safe survived the fire!

Wedding ring, coin collections, stamps... it all made it! Are fire proof safes worth it? Yes! When you wan to protect what inside, the UL fire rating is definitely worth it!

Not All Fire Rated Safes Take the Heat

Cheap Fire Gun SafeNow here's a photo of what's left of one of those big-box-store fire rated safes.

How much safe do you see left here? Nada. And that's practically all that was inside too.

Why did this safe fail?

We believe that this particular safe sells for under $1,000 at a big box store. A discount store where you get discounted items. The fire rating on the safe was not from an independent certified agency. It was a claim by the manufacture.

Safes are like parachutes, when you need one you don't want it to be made cheap. To be sold cheap, cheap safes are simply made cheap. They don't protect their content.

Comparing Actual Fire Resitance vs Fire Resistance Claims

AMSEC conducted an internal study of the fire rating of their BF line of fire rated gun safes against those of competing brand gun safes.

AMSEC's BF line of gun safes is 2-hr fire rated safe.

NONE of the competitor safes came close to their advertised fire ratings.

Table: Fire Rating vs Fire Actual Protection

Fire Rating vs Actual fire Protection
BrandStated Fire RatingActual Fire Protection Under Test
 Brand A 60 Min60 Min47 Min
 Brand A 2.5 Hr150 Min69 Min
 Brand B120 Min9 Min (that's not a typo, just 9 minutes)
 AMSEC BF Safe120 Min128 Min


Fire rated safes come with all sorts of fire ratings. Look for those rated at values greater than 1200 degrees for added protection and look for those that carry the UL Fire Rated symbol if you want to be 100% sure it stands up to the heat.

Want to know How Fire Rated Safes Work? Our article breaks it down for you.