The decision about how to best to protect valuable items and important documents at your place of business is not one that you should make lightly. All safes are not created equally, and you want to make sure that you buy one that provides the level of protection that you need, without spending more than you have to. Understanding how safes are rated for fire safety and security, as well as what features to look for in a lock, can help you make the best choice for your valuable items.

Burglary Ratings

The first thing that you need to consider when you're comparing safes is the burglary rating on the safe. There are a set of industry ratings that you can use to determine whether the safe that you're considering is right for you.

These ratings assume that you'll want to take greater precautions to protect items of greater value. So, on the lowest end of the spectrum, a B-rated safe without an accompanying burglar alarm is rated to protect up to $5000 worth of valuables. On the high side, an Underwriters Laboratory rating of TRTL-30X6, with an accompanying burglar alarm, protects up to a million dollars of valuables, or more.

Fire Safety Ratings

Don't make the mistake of confusing burglar safety with fire safety, or vice versa. Just because a safe is built to keep out safecrackers doesn't mean that it's capable of protecting your documents or photos from fire damage.

There is another set of ratings meant to help you determine whether or not a safe can keep your items safe from heat and flame, and if so, for how long. Safes are tested for endurance, impact, resistance to explosion, and combined explosion and impact. The ratings are listed on a safe in terms of time – they range from safes that can withstand half an hour in a fire up to 1550 degrees to safes that can withstand up to four hours in a fire up to 2000 degrees. It can sometimes be difficult to find a safe with the exact combination of fire safety and security against burglary that you're looking for. A simple fix is to buy a smaller fire safe lockbox to store inside a safe, in order to give yourself the best of both worlds.

Lock Safety

When it comes to choosing a lock for your safe, you have many choices, but the main decision that you'll have to make is whether to choose a digital lock or a mechanical dial lock. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Electronic locks offer many high tech features that can stump a safecracker, and they're also less likely to jam or rust. However, mechanical dial locks will be accessible to you even in the event of a power outage.

A third option that has proven popular for commercial applications is the redundant lock. Redundant safe locks are a combination electronic and mechanical lock in one. This way, you'll have access to your safe no matter what.

Because choosing a commercial safe is a serious decision, make sure that you purchase it from a reliable source, like a trusted local locksmith such as Georges Lock & Security Service. Ask for a warranty, and make sure that you have the lock and any alarms on the safe serviced regularly.