An open fire and burglary resistant safe installed in a wall.

Burglary & Fire Safe Ratings Explained

Keeping your valuables secure has never been more important. Thankfully, today, there is a wide range of options when it comes to safes for residential and commercial use. When looking for the right safe for your needs, it’s important to evaluate the level of protection that it will provide.

In order to understand how well a safe should protect your valuables from burglary attempts and fire, review the standard safe rating system.

How Are Safes Classified & Tested?

A safe is evaluated by how well it stands up to two factors: burglary and fire. Standard ratings give an indication of the level of protection guaranteed for the contents of the safe in these conditions. Together, construction and performance ratings accurately indicate the safe’s reliability when subjected to heat or break-ins.

Burglary Ratings

The standard classification for safe resistance to burglary attempts is determined by construction quality and performance.

Safe Construction Rating

First, there is the Burglary Safe Construction Rating made by insurance companies which grades safes based on the strength of the various building materials. The most common construction quality ratings are the B and C class. Safes are not required to be tested in order to receive this type of rating.

“B” Class

This type of safe has a steel body less than 1/2-inch thick, a steel door less than 1-inch thick, and a lock device.

“C” Class

A safe in this classification has a steel body at least a 1/2-inch thick and a steel door at least 1-inch thick that locks. It must also come equipped with a hard plate and a relocking device.

“E” Class

Safes in this category are made of 1-inch thick solid steel, steel composite or steel plating. It must also have a locking device.

Safe Test Performance Rating

Second, the Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.) have developed Burglary Safe Test Performance Rating. This independent testing lab is responsible for certifying product safety for a wide range of industries. Safes which display U.L. labels have been tested in order to verify their classification. Specialized engineers are also given the safe’s design plans and assembly information before beginning the evaluation.

U.L. RSC (Residential Security Container)

This type of safe must have a body made of 12-gauge steel and door of 3/16-inch steel. It must also have a standard combination lock or electronic lock. A safe with this classification must withstand 5 minutes of testing by an engineer. The test includes prying, drilling, pounding and chiseling and picking with common tools used by burglars. A safe receives a certification if it protects the contents for the duration of the timed trial.

U.L. TL-15

Safes with this rating level must be made of 1-inch solid steel or something similar. The safe must weigh at least 750 lbs. or be anchored. They should have a maximum-security combination or electronic lock. Then, they are verified with the UL© Standard 687 testing process. Engineers assess the strength in the same way described above, using manual tools, drills, pressure devices and power tools, for 15 minutes.

U.L. TL-30

TL-30 safes have the same construction, weight and installation requirements as TL-15 models. This type of safe must have a burglary-proof combination or electronic lock. Testing is similar for this grade of safe, except that cutting wheels and power saws can also be utilized. The duration is extended to 30 minutes and engineers are able to use more tools in the trials.

U.L. TL-30×6

This category of safe has the same construction, weight and installation requirements as TL-15 and TL-30 models. It also must have a burglary-proof combination or electronic lock. To receive this burglary rating, a safe must be tested using the same process as that for the TL-30 class. The difference is that the safe is tested on all 6 sides.

Fire Ratings

In order to classify the various safes available on the market, they must be tested for fire resistance. Each product is put through a series of standardized tests to verify performance. Evaluation for fire classification is also carried out by the U.L.

1/2 Hour – U.L. class 350

To receive a U.L. 350 classification, first, each safe must resist exterior heat reaching 1550°F while maintaining an interior temperature below 350°F. These standards are based on the burning temperature of paper, 410°F. Safes with a ½ hour fire rating need to resist this extreme heat for 30 minutes. Next, the safe is dropped from the height of 30ft. onto a concrete surface and allowed to cool. Then, an explosion test is performed. This subjects the safe to temperatures reaching 2000°F to verify if the door blows off.

1 Hour – U.L. class 350

To achieve this classification, a safe must successfully pass through the same steps described above. However, the first part of the test challenges the safe with high temperatures for 60 minutes. Then, it is put through the cooldown, drop and explosion tests.

2 Hour – U.L. class 350

For a 2-hour rating, the safe must resist the same U.L. 350 testing process, with the difference of extended duration. Here the safe must protect valuables inside by withstanding high temperatures for a full two hours.

Check out our Maintenance Tips for Residential and Commercial Safes and our list of the 10 of the Most Secure Safes and Vaults in the U.S.

Are Your Valuables Secure?

GV Lock provides commercial and residential safe locksmith services. Our experienced locksmiths can install new safes and service existing ones. We also provide assistance for home and business owners with safes that have jammed, malfunctioned or when the code has been lost or forgotten. Contact Great Valley Lockshop today at (610) 644-5334 or request a quote.

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