I have friends who survived a massive wildfire and tell stories of returning home to nothing more than a pile of ash. Wikipedia states the following information about wildfires: “Even before the flames of a wildfire arrive at a particular location, heat transfer from the wildfire front warms the air to 800 °C (1,470 °F), which pre-heats and dries flammable materials, causing materials to ignite faster and allowing the fire to spread faster.” The 2007 California wildfires were reported reaching temperatures of 2000°F. In the case of the wildfire my friends survived, they reported that their guns were destroyed or never found.
How do you determine the fire rating that you want your gun safe to provide? Who conducts these fire rating tests? We come back to our friends at Underwriters Laboratories who provide testing for safes and different fire scenarios. Here is a small excerpt from the ul.com website: “Clad head-to-toe in protective gear, the professional technicians at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) place a personal safe – that could contain irreplaceable documents, cash and personal records – into a furnace chamber for 30 minutes to evaluate if the assets within the safe would get damaged. If nothing is damaged, the technicians increase both the temperature and humidity in the furnace and heat the safe.” Normally, UL continues to increase the amount of time the test was conducted for: “a one-hour rating means that the safe can withstand 1,300-degree Fahrenheit heat for an hour while still protecting the contents of the safe.”
Another cool test UL runs on safes is an impact test. This test simulates a safe falling though multiple stories of a building — resulting from a fire that has weakened the structure. After the safe is heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a furnace, it’s raised three stories and dropped onto a pile of bricks. In order to meet the requirement, the safe can’t pop open.
You can purchase gun safes which are rated for 2.5 hours @ 1200-1400°F and I have found stories of gun safes surviving wildfires. It is up to you to determine what degree of fire protection you want your gun safe to provide. Talk to one of our experts and let us match a gun safe to your requirements.