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Safes - What Are They?

The word "Safe" is aterminology or descriptive word very liberally applied to items which would bebetter described as "tin boxes", petty cash boxes, and steelcontainers, right through to what is actually "a real Safe". Sadlymany people buy a "tin box" described as a Safe, only to find out toolate that it can be opened in less than 30 seconds by "the Bad Boys"and then their valuable items and/or hard-earned cash is gone forever.

There are three different types of Safes to consider.These are:


Used to protect paper documentsor materials in the event of a fire, for the time specified by the manufacturerand verified by a Laboratory Rating. These safes may give limited attackresistance in the event of a burglary.

Data Safe

Used to protect computer media,such as CD's, Backup Drives and the like, in the event of a fire for the timespecified by the manufacturer and verified by a Laboratory Rating. These safesgive limited attack resistance in the event of a burglary.


Specifically designed to with-stand sustained attack in the event of aburglary. A Safe's resistance to attack is measured by a gradingsystem. The harder it is and the longer it takes to successfully gainaccess to a Safe, the higher the grade given. Grading is achieved via anindependent laboratory whereby the Safe is tested to a standard. In NewZealand and Australia the standard is AS/NZS 3809.

When considering the purchase of a safe one shouldconsider the following:

The dollar value of the items tobe placed in the Safe;

The sentimental value of items such as family heirlooms;

What a loss by theft would meanto you, your family, or your business;

What are you trying to protectthe items from - fire or theft?

Should I talk to my insurer?

Whether you have an InsuranceBroker, or work directly with your Insurance Company, if you are serious aboutprotecting your possessions you should check with them before looking and/orbuying a Safe to ensure you will be covered when you finally purchase andinstall. Where you locate the Safe, whether it is bolted down and what to, andwhether you have a monitored alarm are all important factors to be considered.

Should the Safe be bolted down?

Yes it should, either to aconcrete floor, a joist in a wooden floor, or where necessary a specially madeshelf or support.

Where should I locate it?

You should place it in a locationthat allows for easy daily use. It may be an office, a wardrobe, or a hallcupboard but it is important that you can use it as you would any other item offurniture. If you don't, then it is too easy to leave valuable items out andinsecure which can only lead to loss if the worst case scenario happens.

How do I install it?

Thereare only one or two of our products that you may be able to pick up andinstall yourself. We do recommend the services of our specialistinstallers to ensure the Safe is positioned correctly, and bolted securely in alocation that is appropriate for its use. It may be an office, awardrobe, or a hall cupboard but it is important that you can use it as youwould any other item of furniture.

What is a Cash Rating?

This should be a dollar valuethat has been agreed with the Insurance Company, Security Specialists, and theManufacturer that has considered the Safe's design, the Grade, the Standard, itssize and weight, and the locking criteria. Cash Ratings are based upon yourchosen Safe being bolted down. In special circumstances the Insurer willalso consider the location, the alarm system, and other electronic measuresthat may be fitted to the Safe to enhance protection and increase the CashRating for your requirement. The Cash Rating allows for the"overnight" storage of the value, and as a "rule of thumb"is normally doubled for the value of items like jewellery; i.e. a $50,000 CashRating is good for $100,000 of jewellery.

Does a Security Safe protect against a fire?

Yes, it will provide a degree ofFire "Resistance", simply because the barrier material in the Safe'swalls and door will take time to heat up before transferring temperature fromthe outside to the inside. BUT, unless the Safe has a dual test Certificate,there is no "Peace of Mind" that the Security Rated Safe will protectyour valuable documents against a serious fire. A Test Certificate proving thatit has been tested by a laboratory under a Fire standard should be affixed tothe Safe.

How do I lock my Safe?

There arethree options as follows;

Key lock (KL): Simple,generally trouble-free as long as you don't lose the key!

Keyless Combination Lock (KCL) or Dial Lock: Three wheel or four wheel option, traditional, steadyhand and good eyesight required to operate, generally trouble-free with goodyearly maintenance.

Digital Lock (DL): The modern electronic lock has become the "norm" for mostpeople. With easy to use keypads, locking and audit options with the higherspecified models, as long as the lock and keypad are not maltreated, and thebattery is replaced regularly, the DL is the current standard. BUT, as they areelectronic (and therefore like any other electronic item) they do not lastforever. In a heavy use business environment we would recommend replacementbetween 5 and 7 years, and in a private situation between 7 and 10 years.Should any intermittent problem occur before this with either the lock or thekeypad we would recommend replacement immediately. A locked out Safe is veryexpensive because of the time involved to open, the repair to the Safe, and inthe worst case the possible replacement required.

Does a Safe need Servicing?

Yes. On a well constructed Safe,there are moving parts (e.g. hinges, handles and bolt work) that need cleaningand lubricating with specific products, and the locking mechanisms often loosenwith use and require realignment and tightening. A business Safe should beserviced at least annually and a private Safe every two years. If a Safe is notserviced and "locks out", it can be a very expensive job toopen and repair.

How should I use the Safe?

Your Safe should always remainlocked except when actually depositing or removing items. NEVER leave it closedbut unlocked during the day, especially in a work environment when staff deemthey are too busy to properly relock the Safe. It is only as secure as yourcontrol over keys or user codes. NEVER leave keys in your "topdrawer" or other easy to find locations, and NEVER write combination codeson the wall or pad next to the Safe. Change keys or codes when staff leave, orif you suspect an unauthorised person has a key or code. In aretail environment it is worth considering a Deposit Slot or Deposit Drawermodel. This enables cash to be skimmed out of tills during the working shiftand dropped in to the Safe without opening the main door.

Where should I position theSafe?

In a business the Safe should beeither in a location where staff can use it easily as part of good businesspractice in a "front of house" location, or in a secure office wheremoney may be counted and prepared for banking before locking it in the Safe. Ina home you should locate it where you can use it just as you would a drawer orcupboard, preferably against an internal wall under the beam of a monitoredalarm, and of course bolted down.

What is AS/NZS3809?

AS/NZS 3809:1998 Safes andstrongrooms, a Joint Australian/New Zealand Standard

Specifies performancerequirements and procedures for testing secure storage units of the typeintended for use in commercial, industrial, mercantile, financial and insuranceinstitutions, and the like, and that are relied upon to protect the contentsfrom intrusion and forced removal. The secure storage units includefree-standing safes, built-in safes (floor and wall), strongroom doors andstrongrooms (with or without a door). This Standard excludes electronicpackages (other than electronic locks) and other devices that may be attachedto the secure storage unit or vault. These requirements are intended toestablish the resistance to forced removal and intrusion resistant rating ofsecure storage units according to attack by prescribed tools. This Standarddoes not cover tests for fire resistance."