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Thread: Hivemind, suggestions for fire-rated safes?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    Hivemind, suggestions for fire-rated safes?

    Like the title says, thinking about a small-ish safe for passports, wife's jewelry, handguns, etc. Criteria:

    -Fire/water rated in case the house burns down and the fire dept. puts it out.
    -Analog dial rather than digital keypad
    -2 cu/ft probably plenty adequate
    -Floor mount
    -I'd be willing to spend $500 or thereabouts.

    I've looked at the Fire Sentry brand on Amazon but seems like lots of plastic and a few horror stories of lock-outs. Looking for suggestions. We have never owned a safe. Thanks in advance,

    Erik
    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    NE OH
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    1,571
    We've had a mid size sentry safe for many years with no issues..., but long enough that I can't really comment on current models or brands. One thing to be aware of is to plan on some sort of humidity control inside the safe. If you don't actively reduce the interior humidity you will get mold and/or mildew on stuff quickly. I use big-ish canisters of desiccant. Works OK but a bit of a pain to dry them regularly, which means I don't do it as often as I should. I also put the really important stuff, like passports, will copies, etc., in tightly sealed containers with little packs of desiccant inside.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    On the Continental Divide somewhere in Montana
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    Erik,

    I don't really have any suggestions about specific models of safes, but as a firefighter, can comfortably say that MOST home safes cannot really protect the contents in the event of a serious structure fire (i.e. structure is fully involved) - temperatures can easily reach and sustain temperatures between 1200-1600F. I'd look for a safe that has a UL 72 Class 150 or 125 rating. For each of these Classes there is an associated time rating - between 30 minutes and four hours. The best way to avoid fire damage (and the associated water damage when we show up to put the fire out) is to not have one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Yorktown, VA
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    411
    I would concentrate on the fire rating. Most true fire rated safes are going to be expensive but you can always added protection.

    For example if you place it on a concrete floor slab in the garage and add CMU box around it (back/top/sides) and add a door with four layers of fire rated sheet rock it will add significantly to the fire rating.

    After looking into being really safe, we just got a safety deposit box for real valuables and put all original document there. We just keep copies of documents in home safe. A small Fire proof box inside a larger safe also adds time.

    As far as break in proof of the sentry safes and quick search of YT for the lockpickinglawyer, he shows you how with a super magnet these are easily opened. For robbery proof you need thick metal walls and doors and an alarm system to your house so the police arrive before the burglar finishes breaking into your safe.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Millstone, NJ
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    I would look at safety deposit box. If you are looking for absolute protection, I dont think that can be had for under 500.

    If fire is your concern they have bury in the backyard safes that are water proof. something like this could be set into your basement floor and be poured in place and then you can place firebrick on top of it and a small area rug.
    What i did is photocopy everything and put it on a couple flash drives. If there were a fire we could have all the information and know where to go to replace everything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lewiston, Idaho
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    27,597
    We bought a FireFyter quite a few years ago and haven't had any problems. It has a fire rating and we use it to store photos, photo CDs, our passports etc. We have our other important papers in a lock box at our bank.

    Costco, if you have one nearby, has a fair number of ones for sale.
    Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Kansas City
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    I recently inherited one of the small Fire Sentry safes without a key. I took it to the local locksmith and they made a key in less than a minute. No horror story. Anything irreplaceable goes to the bank safe deposit. My shop sells safes as well, and if you find one that does, ask their advice.

    I've seen Fire Sentry at Aldi's occasionally.

  8. #8
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    Relative to the suggestion to use a safe deposit box at the bank, etc., that's not a bad suggestion for true valuables, but be very careful about what paperwork goes in there as in some circumstances, it may be problematic for "the estate" to access the box and that would be an issue for something like the original of a will and other related documents. The originals for that stuff are likely best to be left in the care of the attorney who prepared them and only having copies in a home safe, electronic storage and, if desired, a safe deposit box.

    Our home safe is a Sentry brand.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    Thanks, all. I need to give the sentry ones a closer look. For the reason's Jim stated, it does not sound like a safety deposit box meets our needs. Fire resistance is more the worry than burglars. Appreciate the advice.

    Erik
    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Northeast Ohio
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    Would you consider something like a gun safe? I had a small safe that we quickly outgrew. Purchased a gun safe with more room and can access without stooping down or bending over like the small one we had. They have all different sizes, prices and different fire ratings. Just because it is referred to as “gun”, does not mean mandatory to put weapons in it.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Relative to the suggestion to use a safe deposit box at the bank, etc., that's not a bad suggestion for true valuables, but be very careful about what paperwork goes in there as in some circumstances, it may be problematic for "the estate" to access the box and that would be an issue for something like the original of a will and other related documents. The originals for that stuff are likely best to be left in the care of the attorney who prepared them and only having copies in a home safe, electronic storage and, if desired, a safe deposit box.
    Proper use of a fire safe would be to have it contain the key to your safety deposit box, and a metal plate engraved with the contact info for your attorney and the address of your bank. Anything else would go poof in a real fire.

  12. #12
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    Quite true, Doug. But I'll add that it's a nice place to keep copies of documents because you actually know where they are. There are always trade-offs
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    Mar 2003
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    Upland CA
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    I have a floor model made by Cannon. They have a guarantee that if you have a fire or burglary, and it is damaged they will send someone out to open it for you, crispy or not. Hey, it's better than nothing.

    I also have a small old safe which is about 18" square, and I always figured someone could just pick it up and carry it off. The bigger one was bolted to a concrete floor by the company.

    In either case, we only have our important papers in them, nothing of value to others. One thought for you though. The big one was FULL within two years with files and boxes of important papers. 7 years of paperwork for the IRS, family trusts, check records, insurance papers, retirement papers, DMV stuff.......it all adds up.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

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