Why Your Safe's "Fire Rating" Matters

There has been much debate over whether fire rated safes are worth the investment. At Surelock Security, we know using a fire rated safe is the best way to protect what can’t be replaced. 

But don’t just take it from us. We spoke with an owner of a safe manufactured by Surelock who experienced the unexpected. However, thanks to his fire rated safe, his valuables inside remained untouched. 

On April 12th, James McCorkle’s house caught fire and it was a total loss. His fire rated safe was placed about 13 feet from where the fire started, and the fire chief told him it was about 5 feet from the hottest part of the fire. 

A few days after the fire, McCorkle was connected with a locksmith to get the safe opened. It took about an hour to get into the safe, and what was inside shocked them both. 

“The inside of the safe was like it never went through a fire,” McCorkle said. “The guns had some light surface rust which was probably from the humidity or maybe even the steam from the fire. All the gun stocks, slings, scopes, and even ammo were all in great shape.” 



From the relief of finding his firearms untouched to the next level customer service, McCorkle says his experience with everyone involved with the Surelock manufactured safe and at Atwoods was positive at a time when he really needed a positive experience. 

“This experience was something more to me than good customer service,” McCorkle said. “It was more of a hospitality experience…This hard time was made a little easier.” 


What is a fire rating? And how is a fire rating determined? 

When you see a fire rating on a safe it will have two numbers: an amount of time and a temperature. 

A safe’s fire rating is determined by the amount of time the safe can hold up at a set temperature. 

The fire rating temperature in the safe industry is standardized within the 1,200°F to 1,600°F range. Most typically fall in the middle, around 1,400°F. 

Most Surelock safes come with a 40-minute fire rating. This means our safes with that rating can hold up in a fire raging around 1,400°F for 40 minutes. 

There are various ways that safes can be built to protect against fires. At Surelock, we use layers of fireboard. It’s a pressed powder board made with fire rated materials and pressed into a solid sheet, similar to dry wall. 

These sheets of fireboard can be anywhere from 12 to 16 mm. thick. The more layers, the higher the rating. 

To establish a fire rating, safes undergo a certification process in which the construction of the safe is reviewed and fire testing is conducted.  

Who should consider a fire rated safe? 

Fire rated safes were created years ago out of necessity at a time when fire departments were slower to respond to homes and less efficient at putting out fires. 

This was also a time when homes weren’t equipped with as much storage space, and many had a need for safely housing valuables, such as high value firearms and family heirlooms. 

Fast forwarding to now, there is still a need for fire rated safes for many reasons. So, let’s consider who would benefit from these types of safes. 

Those in rural areas who might not be close to a fire department, those who have a need for protecting valuables like high value firearms or jewelry, and those who rent an apartment where a fire from another home could potentially reach your space. 

A fire rated safe is especially necessary for those who are firearm collectors or who have many firearms passed down from generation to generation. In many cases, the value of a firearm collection can be higher than the home’s value. Protecting from fire could save a collector hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Firearm collectors should ask themselves, “Why am I buying a safe?” 

Securing firearms and safety should be the primary reason. But then you must ask yourself, “Do I want to protect this collection?” If yes, a fire rated safe is a no brainer. If not, then a non-fire rated cabinet may be a more affordable option. 

We all have items that are high in sentimental or monetary value. So, be sure with SureLock and protect what can’t be replaced.