The fundamental questions you have to ask before buying a safe are:
- What do I have to protect? Documents, cash, jewels, data support?
- Against what do I have to protect them? Against fire or against theft?
- If you want to protect them against theft, what financial and/or sentimental value have these things for you?
- If you want to protect them against fire, are they paper or data support?
When you answered all these questions you will choose the best product for yours needs:
To protect your items against theft. This kind of safe is made by two steel plate, without any type of component inside. They should always be anchored because they are very light (they weigh between 12 and 70 kilos).
To protect your items against theft. Normally they are not fireproof, for this reason, their protection against fire is minimal. On the market, there are many kinds of safes, with the following differences:
- With safety grade
- Without safety grade
The safety grade of the safe you need will depend on the value that you want to protect. The more is the value, the higher is the grade you will need. If you are going to insure the content of the safe, your insurance company should indicate you the grade you need.
The graded safes have inside a plate, in which the following information is shown: attestor (LGAI-APPLUS), number of certification of product, followed standard test (EN 1143/1 European Standard), grade of the safe purchased (level 0 to X), weight and year of manufacturing.
To protect your items (paper or data supports) against fire. Normally they are not safes, for these reason, the protection against theft is minimal. On the market there are many products supposed to be fireproof, but which in fact are not. Make sure that there is a plate inside, where the following information is shown: attestor (VdS, ECB.S, UL. In Spain there is no attestor which certifies this type of products), certification of product number, followed standard test (IN 1047/1 European Standard or UL 72 American Standard), kind of resistance of the purchased cupboard (S60P, S120P, S60DIS, S120DIS. 60/120 = minutes. P = paper. DIS = data supports), weight and year of manufacturing.
To protect your items against theft and fire. Make sure that there are two plates inside (one for the graded safe and one for the fireproof cabinet), where the above mentionned information.
You should make sure there is a plate inside the fireproof cabinet, with the following information:
- Attestor (APPLUS or AENOR in Spain)
- Certification number
- Protection grade: it is very important to check if your cabinet protects paper or data supports
- S 60 P Paper Protection 1 hour
- S 120 P Paper Protection 2 hours
- S 60 DIS Data Protection 1 hour
- S 120 DIS Data Protection 2 hours
- Class 125 1hr. Dis Data Protection 1 hour
- Class 350 2hrs. Dis Data Protection 1 hour
- Class 125 1hr. Paper Protection 2 hours
- Class 350 2hrs. Paper Protection 2 hours
Remember that if you keep your data supports in a cupboard which is designed to protect paper, the data protection will not be effective.
It’s also important to check the standard under the one the tests have been carried out:
- EN 1047-1 - European Standard
- VDMA 24991-1 - German Standard
- UL 72 - American Standard
- NT FIRE 017 - Swedish Standard
The German and European standards are the same. Between the American standard and the European one, there are small differences (the test of impact is optional in the American standard and compulsory in the European one). The Swedish standard is less strict than the European standard (they make the endurance test to the fire but do not make the tests of thermal shock nor the impact one, and the test ends artificially without following the cooling curve).
4. Serial Number
5. Safe weight
6. Manufacturing year
All the safes of the market are not graded, but only those that have been tested under the European Standard EN 1143/1, in a recognized laboratory (LGAI-APPLUS in Spain, VdS in Germany, CNPP in France, LPC in England, SPS in Sweden). There are ten grades for safes and thirteen grades for vault doors and vault rooms. The higher is the grade of the product, the higher is its resistance to the attack.
- When the Law of Private Security requires it. Affected sectors: credit institutions, jeweler's shops, silver shops, art galleries, antique shops, petrol stations, drugstores, lottery kiosks, betting offices and game establishments, safety companies.
- When your insurance company requires it.
- For your own initiative, depending on the value you want to protect.
Almost all the European countries have their own laboratory. The most recognized are the following ones:
- LGAI-APPLUS - SPAIN
- VDS - GERMANY
- CNPP - FRANCE
- LPCB - UNITED KINGDOM
- SSF - SWEDEN
- IG - ITALY
The laboratories are those that make the tests whereas the attestors are those which, each year, audit the manufacturers to check that the sample which was taken to the laboratory to be tested has the same characteristics than the products which are presently being manufactured. The more relevant attestors in Europe:
- APPLUS SPAIN
- VDS GERMANY
- A2P FRANCE
- BRE UNITED KINGDOM
- SBSC SWEDEN
- ICIM ITALY
- ECBS EUROPE
Through the product’s certification.
In the spanish market, generally there is confusion between the test report and the product certification. How many times do we hear things like "send me the certificate of the safe". Up to this date, when we were asked, a copy of the laboratory (LGAI) test report was sent, as well as a certificate of the manufacturer based on the test report (Autocertification). Therefore, the only document used in Spain to show the fulfillment of a grade was the declaration of the manufacturer (and not of an attestor as it happens in Europe). The product quality was established on the basis of the confidence and the prestige of every manufacturer. This fact has given place to many anomalous situations. When we refer to product certification, we are not talking about the certification of the quality systems (ISO procedure 9000:2001), though the fact that having it helps to get the product certification. After eight years on a regular market we must take into consideration the following:
- The test reports, do not have any expiry date as they expire exactly when the test ends. The testing methods of the laboratories evolve: experience, new tools, information about real assaults.
- Nowadays, there are in the market safes, which classification is based on test reports made several years ago, and safes which test certifications have been recently made. We can find in the market test reports made in 1997, which small have to do with the ones presently done.
- It is reasonable to think that "classified" safes with the same grade show notable differences of resistance to the attack.
What does obtaining the Product Certification imply?
As long as the product certification is valid, the attestor (APPLUS or AENOR according to the manufacturer’s choice) will make a yearly audit to the producer, in which the following tasks will be carried out:
- He will check that the manufacturer keeps on with all the controls and necessary processes to ensure that the manufacturing of the safes, doors or vault rooms is carried out identically to the one described in the technical corresponding dossier.
- He will inspect the product for sampling, checking that the used materials and the manufacturing process correspond totally to the one described in the manufacturing technical dossier.
- He will check the product market. Once the period of validity of the certification (four years) has passed, one will take samples for the later test in the laboratory (LGAI-APPLUS). With this, the manufacturer is forced to keep few homogeneous standards of quality, making easier for the consumer the comparisons between the offered products (certified product and not certified product).