Many businesses and consumers are turning to video security cameras in response to growing concerns over crimes such as burglary and vandalism. Additionally, businesses are using video surveillance to deter or capture employee theft, and protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. Consumers can benefit from viewing their homes remotely from a mobile device, such as a smart phone.
We offer quality IP video surveillance systems. IP Video captures high quality images which can be encrypted for greater security. These video images can be viewed remotely over the internet or a wireless connection. Video footage can be recorded using a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or, a NVR (Network Video Recorder). Because the images are highly compressed, media storage is easy and cost effective.
A large number of the safes sold in the United States carry no rating,or more specifically, no “Recognized” rating. That means these safes are not held to any recognized industry standard. Sometimes, a manufacturer will even make up their own rating system and apply it to their own safe. When a product bears a “Theft Resistant” rating, this simply means that the safe has some sort of a locking mechanism on it. Compliance with industry recognized ratings is voluntary, but when a manufacturer chooses to it can benefit the consumer by providing valuable information on a safe’s construction or performance.
Industry recognized safe ratings
There are two rating categories that are used to rate a safe. These I’m are known as Construction ratings, and Performance ratings. Construction ratings assess the safe’s physical characteristics. Performance ratings test the safe’s ability to withstand an attack.
Construction Ratings for Safes
The Construction Class Rating category represents a non-standardized industry rating system. Manufacturers are not bound to any enforceable, documented standards. These ratings are never verified. Listed below, is a partial list of the more commonly used construction rating classes.
Class B Rating– These Safes typically have between 3/16” and ¼” thick steel bodies and ½” thick steel doors.
Class B/C Rating– These safes typically have ¼” thick steel bodies and 1” thick steel doors, with an added metal layer (10-12 gauge range) that encompasses a fire resistant composite material.
Class C Rating– These safes typically have ½” thick steel bodies and 1” thick steel doors. Note- some safes will offer a C rated door on a B rated body. This is sometimes offered in floor safes, since the body of the safe is to be set into concrete.
Class E Rating– These safes typically have 1” thick steel bodies and 1 1/2” thick steel doors.
The Construction Ratings system can be both confusing and, at times, misleading to a consumer. Safes that are rated at the same class level can vary greatly in the actual security they provide. All of these classes can offer a product ranging from a hinged lock box to a safe that includes more advanced features such as strong plate, relockers, and deadbolts. Some manufacturers will employ methods to reduce their cost and lower the price of their products. To illustrate, lets look at the thickness of the steel listed under the various class ratings. These numbers can reflect the Actual Thickness or a Combined Thickness. For example, a safe manufacturer who produces a Class E Rated safe might elect to use two ½” thick steel side panels that sandwich another material (I.e. Fire resistant drywall), rather than use a solid 1” piece of steel. Brand and product familiarity are important when shopping for a safe. Having a better understanding of the product and the way it was constructed can help in making a more informed decision.
Performance Ratings for Safes
The performance rating category is considered a more reliable measure of a safe’s security, as it actually tests the safes ability to withstand attack and /or fire. Many reputable manufacturers elect to have their safes performance tested, this testing is conducted by independent testing organizations.The four most recognized and utilized testing organizations in the U.S. are Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek-ETL, Guardian,and Mercury. The most commonly used of these are the Underwriters Laboratories. So, we will focus on the UL performance ratings system here.
The UL conducts its testing of safes under controlled conditions using state of the art equipment. The two main categories of performance testing are for Burglary and Fire resistance.
The objective of the UL Burglary Performance testing is to open the safe’s door or create an opening that measures six inches square (Two inches square on a TRTL rated safe and higher). To test a safes burglary resistance the UL will employ teams of experienced, credentialed experts (Safe Crackers) to attack the safe. These experts are provided with blueprints of the safe, prior to implementing their plan of attack. The planning and setup phase may last for several hours. The testers can even disassemble the safe prior to testing. The UL time ratings are for 15, 30, and 60 minutes*. This means that the minimal amount of time that a burglary rated safe must survive an attack is for fifteen minutes, the maximum amount of time is for sixty minutes. All times are “Net” working times. This means that the clock will start and stop depending upon whether the tools are touching the surface of the safe. The actual net working time for a 15 minute test could be be spread out over several hours. This is a critical detail to point out, as thieves seldom have the same luxury of time during a “real life” safe attack. Thus, these time limits are actually quite generous, as they afford the testers a great deal of time to carefully evaluate, plan and carry out their attack to maximum effectiveness.
*Note- The UL has a special rating called the Residential Security Container rating (RSC). This basic rating allows one tester armed with a range of household grade tools to attempt to open the safe in under 5 minutes. A RSC rated safe must use a UL rated Group 2 lock or higher. This category makes up a large portion of the residential UL tested safe market. Generally speaking, this is a very broad rating as some RSC rated brand models can offer significantly more security than other RSC rated safes.
The types of attack rating methods employed by UL are;
- Tools (TL), High grade hand / power tools are used,(Ie. tungsten- carbide drill bits).
- Torch (TR), Oxy-fuel gas cutting or welding torches are used (I.e thermal lance).
- Explosives (TX), High explosives are used, up to a total of 8 ounces and no more than 4 ounces at a time (I.e. nitroglycerin).
Some examples of performance ratings are given here;
TL-15, This rating means a two man team attacked and failed to open the safe’s door (Or create a 6” square opening through the door) in under 15 minutes using common hand tools and power tools.
TRTL-30, This rating means that a two man team attacked and failed to open the safe’s door (Or create a 2” square opening through the door) in under 30 minutes using hand tools, high powered tools, and a oxy-fuel gas cutting or welding torch.
TRTL-30×6, This rating is identical to the rating listed above, with the exception that the test permitted attack to all six sides of the safe, not just the door. So, they failed at opening the door and making a two inch square opening on any side.
TXTL-60, This rating means that a two man team attacked and failed to open the safe’s door (Or create a 2” square opening through the door) in under 60 minutes using hand tools, high powered tools, and high explosives.
UL specifications require that some of their rated safes meet minimum weight requirements. The TL15 through TRTL-60X6 ratings, must “Weigh at least 750 pounds or shall be equipped with suitable anchors…for anchoring”. The safe’s body walls and door must be manufactured of a material equivalent to at least 1” open-hearth-steel with a minimum tensile strength of 50,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). These walls are to be fastened in a manner which is equivalent to a continuous ¼ inch penetration weld and must have a 50,000 PSI tensile strength (Minimum). Additionally, safes with a UL rating TL15 through TL-30 X 6 must have a UL Group 2M lock or higher.
Safe Locking Mechanisms
There are three categories of safe locks.
- Mechanical Locks– These are traditional, time tested Dial locks.
- Electronic Locks– These are battery operated keypads.
- Hybrid Locks– These locks utilize two or more technologies in one lock. An example is a Electronic-mechanical lock (A dial and a keypad combined).
UL Rated Safe Lock Mechanisms
The UL rates Mechanical and Electronic safe lock mechanisms. These are listed under UL 768 and UL 2058, respectively.
Mechanical Combination (Dial) Safe Locks
There are four different categories for UL 768 rated mechanical combination Locks. These ratings are based upon the dials resistance to manipulation and other attacks.
- Group 2– These locks offer the most basic level of dial lock security and are designed to resist semi-skilled manipulation attempts for less than two hours. These locks are best suited for use on RSC, B, and C rated safes.
- Group 2M– These locks offer resistance to manipulation carried out by a skilled expert for up to two hours. This category provides a good “mid-range” lock to place on a TL-15 or TL-30 safe.
- Group 1– These locks are rated to withstand 20 hours of expert manipulation, but they are susceptible to x-ray, allowing them to be opened in a shorter time. These locks are expensive and are used on higher priced safes that are rated TL-30 and higher.
- Group 1R– These locks are rated the same as Group 1, but have an added x-ray resistant feature.
Electronic Keypad Safe Locks
These locks have increased in popularity due to their ease of use and, with certain models, audit trail capabilities. There are two UL 2058 rating categories for electronic keypad locks.
- Type 1– These locks are rated to withstand expert manipulation for 20 hours, plus additional specifications outlined below.
- Type 1F– These locks are similar to Type 1, but also conform to U.S. Federal Specification FF-L-2740. These locks are made for use by Federal Government Agencies.
To further ensure the integrity of Type 1 locks the UL build specifications require that the batteries used to power the lock be stored inside the keypad located on the outside of the safe door. This prevents a lockout due to dead batteries. The combination to the lock must be stored in some type of NVRAM (Non-volatile Random Access Memory), to prevent the loss of the safe’s memory (Which stores the combination) in the event of power disruption. Additionally, the NVRAM must be located on the locked (Inside) side of the safe door, to prevent tampering of the memory (I.e. Replacing the memory with another keypad in order to open the safe by default code). Lastly, the lock must initiate the drawback of the bolt, rather than the keypad. This prevents the manipulation of the keypad wires which could be used to deliver voltage to initiate the drawback of the bolt.
UL Fire Ratings for Safes
UL conducts three different types of fire rating tests; 1) Fire Endurance, 2) Explosion Hazard, and 3) Fire Impact. To receive a UL fire rated label a safe must undergo, and pass, the Fire Endurance and Explosion Hazard tests.
Fire Endurance Test
The safe to be tested is put into a furnace. The safe has heat sensors and paper documents placed inside, the door is closed and locked. Then, the safe is uniformly heated to the desired exterior temperature.The safe must remain exposed to the desired temperature for a predetermined amount of time. The time and temperature levels are set as follows;
- ½ Hour Rated Safe- Must reach 1550 degrees F
- 1 Hour Rated Safe- Must reach 1700 degrees F
- 2 Hour Rated Safe- Must reach 1850 degrees F
- 3 Hour Rated Safe- Must reach 1920 degrees F
- 4 Hour Rated Safe= Must reach 2000 degrees F
After, the safe has achieved it desired time limit, it is allowed to gradually cool inside the closed furnace with the heat turned off. The safe is removed only after the interior temperature of the safe reflects a significant decrease in temperature. To pass this test the interior must not exceed its maximum allowable temperature. These interior temperature limits are set as follows;
- Class 125– The maximum allowable internal testing temperature for this safe is less than 125 degrees F. These safes were originally designed to store digital media, such as floppy disks, but, can also safely protect other media such as compact disks, tapes, etc. These safes also maintain a humidity level below 80%.
- Class 150– The maximum allowable internal testing temperature for this safe is less than 150 degrees F. These safes were designed to store computer and reel to reel magnetic tapes. These safes also maintain a humidity level below 85%.
- Class 350– The maximum allowable internal testing temperature for this safe is less than 350 degrees F. These safes were designed to store paper documents.
Explosion Hazard Test
This UL test places an empty, locked safe into a furnace which has been pre-heated to 2000 degrees F. The safe must remain inside for a predetermined amount of time without exploding. If, no explosion occurs, the furnace is turned off and the safe is allowed to cool inside. Once, sufficiently cooled, a detailed inspection takes place to determine the safes performance and usability.
Fire Impact Test
During a fire a building’s structural integrity may become compromised due to the flames and high temperatures. Thats why the Fire Impact Test was developed. This optional test simulates the effects of a safe dropping through the collapsing floors of a three story building, and is conducted immediately after the Explosion Hazard Test. Within, two minutes of being removed from the furnace, the safe is hoisted 30 feet high and dropped onto a pile of bricks which are resting on a solid concrete slab. The safe is inspected for damage and, if it appears intact, it is returned to the furnace for re heating. After, a predetermined amount of time the furnace is turned off, and the safe is allowed to cool. Once, cooled, the safe is removed and carefully examined for damage and heat transmission.
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