Stop Asking these Questions When Buying a Safe


“How much is that one?”  “What is the fire rating?”   “How thick are the bolts?” “How much does it weigh?”  These questions let us know that a potential client is usually buying a safe for the first time and, honestly, does not know the right questions to ask.  Let’s break down these questions for a better understanding of how to best shop for a safe.

“How much is that one?”  Price is certainly an important question but it shouldn’t be the first when shopping for a safe to protect your business.  You wouldn’t buy the cheapest parachute to jump out of a plane, would you?  You need a safe that is going to perform well in the event of an emergency of internal theft, armed robbery or a burglary.  If you are putting high valuable goods in a safe, saving a couple hundred dollars may cost you tens of thousands in the end if the safe is penetrated.

“What is the fire rating?”   Fire ratings on safes are often misnomers and red herrings.  Unless assigned by Underwriter Laboratories (UL), fire ratings are assigned from the manufacturers.  Fire ratings are important only if you are worried about your safe’s contents being destroyed in a FIRE. The fire rating has NOTHING to do with a safe’s ability to defend against a criminal.

“How thick are the bolts?” Although these would seem to lead to a high quality safe – they do not necessarily lead to the safe with the best defenses against criminal intent.  For example, the most sophisticated criminals know that the door is the strongest part of the safe so they don’t even bother attacking the door.   Bolt size can protect a safe but a better indication is the UL Rating.

“How much does it weigh?”  Weight is also not a great indication unless you want to prevent a criminal from dragging your safe to another location – possible, yet rare in burglaries and non-existent in an armed robbery or internal theft situation.  If there is any concern about a safe being stolen we usually bolt it to the floor.  A better indication is the UL Rating

There are two main third parties that are experts in rating safes against the threat of a criminal –  Underwriter Laboratories (UL) or VdS.   UL ratings are measured in minute increments (15, 30, 60) and classified by what type of attack it can resist: TL – Tool; TRTL – Torch and Tool and TRTLX – Torch, Tool and Explosives.  They also indicate whether the door is rated or the whole entire safe (indicated by an x6).

To give you an idea of what safes are appropriate here are some examples.   A retail store with some overnight cash will use a TL-15.  A place storing high-value materials or cash – like a pawnshop, jeweler, bank or cannabis retailer – will use anywhere from a TL30 to a TRTL -30×6.  These safes have historically resisted against sophisticated criminal attacks.

UL tests costs around 50,000 dollars, take weeks of preparations of planning and expire after 7 years. The UL test sophistication make it the accurate measure for effectiveness of a safe against criminal intent.

For more information on what safe is right for you, please call David Randall at 214.845.6805 or contact us at


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