Most people purchase a gun safe to protect their guns and other valuable possessions from potential burglars. While burglars are obviously a threat to your guns and possessions, fire also poses a huge risk.
That’s why many people look for gun safes that are fireproof. When purchasing a fireproof gun safe, you should examine and understand its UL rating. It’s also important to understand that no gun safe is completely fireproof.
That being said, continue reading to learn everything you need to know about fire ratings, as well as why no gun safe is completely fireproof!
Understand the Importance of UL Fire Ratings
If you’re unfamiliar with UL fire ratings, they are essentially a rating given by Underwriters Laboratories. Underwriters Laboratories are experts in the business and rate everything from gun safes to locks. There are three essential parts to a UL fire rating, which are:
The fire endurance is the first and most basic test of a UL fire rating. During a fire endurance, a gun safe is tested to see how much the temperature can increase before anything inside is damaged.
Basically, Underwriters Laboratories utilize a combination of heat sensors and something flammable, such as paper, to test the endurance of a gun safe. Then, the gun safe is locked and a controlled fire is started. There are three most common UL fire ratings, which ultimately rank from time.
- The first UL fire endurance rating is UL Class 350, which means a gun safe can last approximately thirty minutes in a fire and withstand a temperature of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before anything happens to the inside contents.
- The next UL fire endurance rating is UL Class 150, which means the gun safe can last approximately one hour during temperatures of up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lastly, a UL Class 125 means the gun safe can withstand temperatures up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two hours.
The next test is the explosion hazard test. During the explosion hazard test, a gun safe is placed inside a heated furnace that is 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. There are two kinds of explosion tests, which are dependent upon a gun safe’s size and fire endurance. The only difference between the two explosion tests is how long the gun safe sits in the furnace. For one test, the gun safe remains in the furnace for a half hour. But, for the other test, the gun safe sits in the furnace for almost three hours.
There are two main results from the explosion test. If the gun safe is not as durable as it’s marketed, it will explode in the furnace. But, if the gun safe remains in tact in the furnace, then it is left inside the furnace so it can cool properly.
After cooling, a researcher opens the furnace to examine the condition of the gun safe. This means that every part of the gun safe is inspected, such as the fastenings, locks, and general appearance.
The last test is the impact test. This happens right after the explosion hazard test because it requires the gun safe to be previously heated.
Once it’s safe for researchers to handle the gun safe, they take it out of the furnace. Then, during a span of approximately two minutes, researchers drop the gun safe. The gun safe will experience a fall of approximately thirty feet and land on a combination of brick and concrete.
Once the gun safe is secured on the ground, researchers inspect every aspect of it to see if there is any damage, and if so, what kind.
Then, the gun safe goes back into the furnace for approximately a half hour under temperatures of up to 1550 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of dropping the gun safe again, it is simply taken out of the furnace once it’s cooled and examined again for any damage.
Why There is No Such Thing as a Completely Fireproof Gun Safe?
Although gun safes can be almost fireproof, there is no such thing as a completely fireproof gun safe. This makes sense if you take a second and think about it. After all, is anything really truly fireproof? No.
According to Underwriters Laboratories, the best fire rating a gun safe can get is UL Class 125 that lasts approximately three hours. Unfortunately, even this fire rating wouldn’t withstand the hottest type of fire, which is 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also important to note that guns fire from an increase in air pressure, which fires cause. Therefore, if your gun is loaded, even a small house fire could potentially spread, set your gun off, and cause a larger fire and more damage.
While there is no such thing as a gun safe that is completely fireproof, UL ratings demonstrate that there are many gun safes on the market that are as close to being fireproof as manufacturers can get a product to be. Therefore, it’s still better to have a somewhat fireproof gun safe than a gun safe that cannot protect your guns and possessions from fire at all.
Things Gun Owners Should Know
There are a few things gun owners should consider when purchasing guns and a gun safe. Firstly, some guns are made with easily flammable materials, such as plastic and polymer. While it’s obviously the best idea to steer clear from these guns entirely, it can be hard to find a gun you like that doesn’t include at least a little bit of these materials.
That being said, if you happen to own a gun that is made with one of these materials, experts recommend purchasing a gun safe that has at least a UL 350 rating that can be substantiated for approximately two hours.
Another thing to consider is the fact that ammunition can easily ignite from increased temperature and air pressure. That being said, it’s important you store your ammunition in a highly rated gun safe externally from your guns.