Best Fire Safes

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

43 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
385 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best fire safes

Last Updated August 2019

Safes are designed to keep valuable items safe and secure, but what happens in the event of a fire? Sure, financial losses should be covered by insurance. Sentimentally valuable items or anything irreplaceable would be lost, however. That's why you should buy a fire safe — one that's capable of protecting your valuables should fire strike.

There's lots to think about when selecting a fire safe. How long could the safe effectively protect your items in a blaze? Up to what external temperature could it survive?

To help you out, we picked our favorite fire safes and created this detailed guide to teach you more about everything fire safe-related. Read on to find out what you need to know to select the best fire safe for you.

If you choose a safe that's heavy, it would be all the harder for a thief to pick it up and walk off with it.

Key considerations

Internal temperature

It's important to know what internal temperature a fire safe can maintain while a fire is raging around it. The majority of fire safes maintain an internal temperature of between 120°F and 340°F.  However, you can find some pricier fire safes that are able to maintain a lower internal temperature.

The reason why the internal temperature is so important is that it needs to be low enough to protect the types of items you want to store.

  • Paper combusts at 350°F, so the internal temperature of your chosen fire safe would need to remain below this in order to protect important paperwork or documents.

  • Digital media, such as USB drives, CDs, DVDs, and SD cards, start to degrade at 248°F. The majority of fire safes rated for digital media maintain internal temperatures of 240°F or below.

  • Magnetic media will be damaged by temperatures of 125°F or greater. To protect these items — hard drives, cassette tapes, floppy discs — the internal temperature of your safe must stay below this. It's also around this temperature (or slightly higher) that film degrades, so any negatives of microfiches should be kept in a safe rated for magnetic media.

Protection time and temperature

Manufacturers should list the amount of time a particular fire safe could protect your items from a blaze and at what external temperature. In terms of time, fire safes can offer protection for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. It's possible that your safe could protect your items for slightly longer than the listed time.

The majority of fire safes can keep their contents unharmed up to a maximum external temperature of between 1,000°F and 2,000°F. (Note that a fire safe’s maximum external temperature is a different figure than its internal temperature.) The average temperature in a burning building varies depending on a range of factors including the distance from the ground, the building construction, and any fuel or accelerants present, but it can reach as high as 1,500°F to 2,000°F. As such, the higher the maximum external temperature, the more likely your items are to survive.

Lock type

Fire safes can feature a range of lock types. Key locks are common on smaller safes, such as document-sized fire safes and fireproof lock boxes, but the downside is that they can be opened by anyone who manages to get their hands on your keys.

When you think of safes, you might picture the dial combination that you see people trying to crack in old movies. However, press-button keypad combination locks are much more popular now. Some newer and more high-tech safes feature fingerprint-recognition locks, so your fire safe can only ever be opened by you.

Size

Fire safes come in numerous sizes, from mini document safes that can only hold a small stack of papers to full-size safes that can hold all kinds of belongings: artwork, boxes of old cassettes or CDs, and other sizable items. Choose a fire safe that's the correct size to hold what you want to protect. Think about both the internal and external dimensions of your chosen safe. Bear in mind that, due to its reinforced layers, the exterior of a fire safe is significantly larger than the interior.

EXPERT TIP

You may be interested in a fire safe that would sound an alarm if someone were to unsuccessfully attempt to open it.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Door pockets in fire safes are useful for holding small documents, such as passports and birth certificates, that might be hard to find in the main body of a packed safe.


Staff  | BestReviews

Fire safe features

Water resistance

A decent fire safe should be water-resistant. Not only can a water-resistant safe protect your contents from a fire hose soaking, but it can also offer protection in the event of a separate flooding incident.

Drawers and shelves

Many larger fire safes feature drawers or shelves. Shelves provide extra storage space in tall fire safes. Ideally, the shelves would be either movable or removable to accommodate taller items. Drawers are great for containing smaller items or spherical items that could roll around and fall out.

Lockable compartment

Having a separate lockable compartment offers a second line of defense for your most valuable items. Even if someone did manage to get inside your safe, they'd be faced with a second lock that would be tough to open without the key.

Cash rating

A fire safe can have a cash rating, which basically tells you how secure it is. The cash rating refers to how much cash an insurance company would be willing to cover in the event of a burglary if the cash were kept inside your safe. The more secure a safe is, the larger the cash rating, as it's less likely that a burglar could break into it.

Fire safe prices

The main factors that influence price are the size of the safe and how effective it is at protecting items from fire.

Basic fire safes generally cost between $50 and $200. These safes are usually on the smaller side and are generally only rated safe for documents or digital data. Most of these safes would keep your belongings protected for no more than an hour.

Mid-range fire safes cost $200 to $500. These are usually rated for digital data and can withstand external temperatures on the upper end of the spectrum.

High-end fire safes cost between $500 and $1,000. These are usually medium or large safes that can protect magnetic data at a high external temperature for up to two hours.

Some fire safes have doors that swing shut when you leave them open, meaning you won't accidentally leave your items unprotected.

Staff
BestReviews

Other products we considered

  • Consider how secure you need your fire safe to be. If your items are of sentimental value and probably wouldn’t be valuable to a burglar, you might only need a safe that protects against fire; security may be less important. However, if you'll be keeping cash or financially valuable items inside the safe, it should be secure enough to withstand an attempted break-in.

  • Decide whether you need a fire safe that has been drop-tested. This means tests have shown it can survive a drop after being exposed to high temperatures. This is an important feature if your safe is to be kept above ground level.

  • Think about where you'll position your fire safe. Do you want a freestanding safe or one that could be mounted on the wall for extra security?

  • Check the internal capacity of your chosen fire safe to be sure it would fit your belongings. The capacity is generally measured in cubic feet.
Choose a fire safe that has been independently tested, preferably by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL-certified fire safes meet the stringent requirements set out by UL, so you can trust they'll keep your items safe should the worst happen.

FAQ

Q. What happens if I forget the combination to my safe?
A.
Some fire safes feature a backup mechanical lock, so you can open it with a key if you forget your combination. If your safe doesn't have this feature, we highly recommend choosing a memorable combination that you won't forget. Alternatively, your safe company may be able to give you an override combination if you can provide proof of ownership.

Q. Will a fire safe really protect my belongings?
A.
As long as you choose a quality fire safe that has been independently tested, you can be almost certain it would protect your items in the event of a fire, but only up to the time limit and maximum temperatures listed.

Q. Should I choose a fire safe with wheels?
A.
A fire safe with wheels is easier to move from place to place; this could prove handy if you need to use it in more than one area. However, it also means a thief could potentially wheel it off, so you must decide if it's worth the risk.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
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    Devangana
    Web Producer
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    Eliza
    Production Manager
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    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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