Affiliate Disclosure

Stylized i character

None of our reviews are sponsored. We earn a commission when you purchase items through our links.

The Best Fireproof Safe


Over several weeks we tested six of the top-rated fireproof safes and determined that the best fireproof safe is the large SentrySafe – SFW123C, with its easy-to-use combination lock and movable shelving. For storing documents in hanging files, the Honeywell – 1108 holds legal-sized documents and also comes with high UL fireproof ratings.

Our Top Choices

Over several weeks we tested six of the top-rated fireproof safes and determined that the best fireproof safe is the large SentrySafe – SFW123C, with its easy-to-use combination lock and movable shelving. For storing documents in hanging files, the Honeywell – 1108 holds legal-sized documents and also comes with high UL fireproof ratings.

Table of contents

How we selected finalists to test

We read through user reviews on Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot to understand what features consumers thought fireproof safes should have. Based on this research, we then looked for fireproof safes that would protect documents, electronics and small valuables from fire and/or water damage. Since this type of safe is not designed to hold firearms or be 100% burglar-proof, we did not include gun safes or anti-theft safes in our final selection.

We decided to include a variety of sizes from portable (under 15 pounds) to larger, more theft-deterrent safes (over 80 pounds). Although the heavier safes are not completely burglar-proof, they aren’t easy for an intruder to grab. A bank safety-deposit box is the most secure place for valuables, but jewelry, passports, hard drives and other items that you want frequent access to, you may want to consider buying a fireproof safe for your home.

We also narrowed down our search by selecting fireproof safes that had been rated by the UL, LLC, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories. UL is a not-for-profit organization that sets safety standards and certifies tests of products that ensure they meet those standards.  We chose to review only those safes that had a certified UL rating.

Compare the best fireproof safes

Top fireproof safes

SafePriceInterior Size (cubic inches)Weight (pounds)Praticality Score
1. SentrySafe - SFW123CS$$2125863.8
2. First Alert - 2087F-BD$$1624823.3
3. Honeywell - 1108$$$$1832803.5
4. First Alert - 2037F$1071403.2
5. SentrySafe - 0500$259113.5
6. Honeywell - 1104$$674543.5

Other fireproof safes

How fire protection ratings work

The UL tests safes by placing them in a large furnace and exposing them to high temperatures for sustained periods of time. Most UL-rated home safes maintain a temperature below the desired internal temperature and humidity for 30 minutes when the safe’s exterior temperature is 1,550 °F. This common rating standard is based on data regarding house fire temperatures and firefighting response times. Other longer UL tests at higher temperatures — such as one hour at 1700 °F or two hours at 1850 °F — are less common for personal safes.

For the UL to consider a safe fireproof for paper documents, the internal temperature of the safe cannot exceed 350 °F during testing. Oftentimes, you will see manufacturers advertise a UL 350 rating, this means that the safe has been tested according to the UL standards for protecting paper. The internal temperature thresholds for digital media and film are lower: 125 °F and 150 °F, respectively — this kind of protection is much more expensive.

Unfortunately, the UL does not test safes for water resistance, which is important in the event of a house fire when a safe could be doused in water by firefighters. The private testing firm, Intertek, however, does test for water resistance, and most of our finalists received an Intertek ETL certification based on those tests.

Important features to consider

SafeUL Fire EnduranceWater ProtectionUL ExplosionETL Fire Impact
SentrySafe - SFW123CS1700°F for 1 hourETL verified up to 8 in. of water for up to 24 hrs.UL classified protection against explosionETL verified drop test
First Alert - 2087F-BD1700°F for 1 hourTested by manufacturer. Not intended for long term underwater exposure.n/an/a
Honeywell - 11081700°F for 1 hourIndependently verified up to 24 Hours - 39 in. / 1 m Depth for up 24 hoursn/an/a
First Alert - 2037F1,550°F for 30 minutesTested by manufacturer. Not intended for long term underwater exposure.n/an/a
SentrySafe - 05001,550°F for 30 minutesNo information givenn/an/a
Honeywell - 11041700°F for 1 hourIndependently verified up to 24 Hours - 39 in. / 1 m Depth for up 24 hoursn/an/a

UL fire-protectant rating: We recommend purchasing a safe with the highest UL fire-protectant rating possible, within your price point.  The standard UL 350 rating (see above) is good for paper documents. The best UL rating we tested ensured the safe’s contents will remain under 350 °F in a hotter-than-usual 1700 °F fire, but still isn’t designed to protect film, computer disks, pearls or other valuables that would be damaged at baking temperatures.

Interior and exterior dimensions: Consider what items you will store in your safe and that they will fit inside. Ideally, a safe should be stored in a hidden location, such as a closet, so make sure its exterior dimensions will fit where you want it to be.

Weight: A small safe can be easily stored on the top shelf of a closet. There are advantages to weight, though, since a large safe — 50 pounds or more — would be difficult for a thief to carry away.

Waterproof:  Independently verified waterproof ETL ratings are a plus. Be sure to consult the safe manufacturer’s water-resistance information.

Lock options: The safes we tested had either a key lock, a combination lock or both. Key locks are simple — as long as you keep track of the keys. Combination locks provide similar security, but you only need to keep track of the code instead of a physical object.

Mounting options: None of the safes we tested are designed to be completely theft-proof, but one of the First Alert models did come with a mounting set to screw the safe to the floor. While a determined criminal could cut out a screwed-down safe, this feature would likely deter a casual criminal.

How we tested

Interior organization

We measured each safe’s interior dimensions and gathered items that some might store inside, such as passports, jewelry, jewelry boxes, hard drives, documents and hanging files. We compiled this information about what each safe could fit in the table below.

SafeInterior Dimensions (H x W x D in Inches)Exterior Dimensions (H x W x D in Inches)
SentrySafe - SFW123CS13.8" x 12.6" x 11.9"17.8" x 16.3" x 19.3"
First Alert - 2087F-BD12.88" x 10.38" x 12. 25"17.8" x 15"x 19.8"
Honeywell - 110810.2" x 15" x 12"13.6" x 20" x 17.2"
First Alert - 2037F10.25" x 12.17" x 8.58"12.75" x 16.12" x 13"
SentrySafe - 05003.8" x 9.7" x 7.3"6.1" x 12.2" x 10.3"
Honeywell - 11043.8" x 14.8" x 12"7.3" x 20.0" x 17.2"

The SentrySafe – SFW123CS and First Alert – 2087F have large, movable shelves and could hold the most items. The shelves in both of these safes are made of cheap plastic, but they’re handy for organizing your valuables. If you need to store something that’s tall, these safes would be your best bet.

The SentrySafe – 0500 is the only safe we recommend storing on the top shelf of a closet, because it’s small and light enough to easily lift up and down. The Honeywell safes have handles like a briefcase, but when filled, the safes were impossible to carry.

UL Rating

We could not test fire resistance as rigorously as the UL, so we considered each safe’s UL rating for how much heat it could withstand. Remember that the UL 350 standard is good for paper, but pearls, computer disks and most plastics will be damaged at those temperatures.

User experience

To practically test each safe’s usability, our team stored multiple items over a two-week period. During this time, they needed to learn combinations and keep track of keys and then report their experience.

Overall, our team agreed that the quality of the keys for the safes was poor. All of the safe manufacturers offer ways for replacing lost or broken keys for a charge of approximately $30. It’s a good idea to keep the key’s identification number safely stored in a second location, since it’s necessary for replacing a lost or damaged key.

Our team was also surprised by the flimsy plastic handles for locking the safes, which pointed again to these safes’ primary function of protecting against fire and not burglars.

The combination locks reminded our team of their high school lockers and weren’t difficult to use. The First Alert – 2087F’s four-digit dial had users consulting the instruction manual and wasn’t as easy to use.

Humidity

Another quirk to consider is a safe’s dehumidifying needs. Most of the safes we tested recommended airing out the safe for about 30 minutes every two weeks. A safe’s humidity could also be controlled with desiccant bags, like the ones included with the SentrySafe – SFW123CS, which absorb moisture from enclosed spaces.

All of the safe manufacturers recommended sealing delicate items, such as intricate watches or jewelry, in an airtight container before storing them in the safe. None of the safes we tested were meant to contain pearls, computer disks, audiovisual cassettes or photo negatives.

SafeWeight (pounds)Maintenance RecommendedOverall Practicality Tester Scores Average
SentrySafe - SFW123CS86Open once every two weeks to avoid moisture accumulation.3.83
First Alert - 2087F-BD82Open for at least 20 minutes every two weeks.3.25
Honeywell - 110880Open for at least 20 minutes every two weeks.3.50
First Alert - 2037F40Open for at least 20 minutes every two weeks.3.16
SentrySafe - 050011No specific recommendations.3.50
Honeywell - 110454Open for at least 30 mins per week.3.50

Best overall: SentrySafe – SFW123CS

Sentry Safe

The largest and heaviest safe we tested, the SentrySafe – SFW123CS, took our top pick because of its easy-to-use combination lock, spacious interior, strong UL fire rating and ETL water-resistance rating. 

We had no difficulty unlocking the SentrySafe. Because of its dial’s strong haptic feedback after passing each tick mark, the SentrySafe was much easier to use than all of the safes. We also appreciated the SentrySafe’s capacity. It has the largest interior volume of our finalists, and a larger item, such as a jewelry box or document bag, could easily fit inside.

The SentrySafe is UL classified to withstand temperatures up to 1700 °F for up to one hour and to keep the interior below 350 °F. This safe also provided a UL Explosion Classification, which none of our other safes provided, which means it isn’t sealed in a way that will cause it to burst open in a super-hot flash fire. The SentrySafe also provides an ETL water-resistance guarantee to protect contents for up to 24 hours in 8 inches of water.

Best Overall: SentrySafe - SFW123CS

The SentrySafe has a spacious interior that can accommodate large items, strong UL fire and ETL water-resistance ratings and a user-friendly combination lock.

While the SentrySafe’s solidity inspired confidence, we were concerned that its cheap plastic handle could be ripped off, which would effectively trap your items inside until it could be repaired. This problem was not unique, by any means, to the SentrySafe — all the safes in this price range have plastic components.

Despite this flaw, we loved the SentrySafe’s solid, nondescript appearance and ease of use. It’s reasonably priced and with its strong UL and ETL ratings, unique explosion guarantee and bonus desiccant bags for controlling humidity, the SentrySafe – SFW123CS wins our top pick.
Key takeaways:

  • The largest and heaviest safe we tested, the SentrySafe’s interior can hold larger items.
  • Strong haptic feedback made this rotary combination lock the easiest to use.
  • The SentrySafe’s higher fire rating certifies that the safe can keep the interior below 350 °F in extra-hot fires up to 1700 °F for one hour.

Best for hanging files: Honeywell – 1108

Honeywell

Our top pick for hanging files is the Honeywell – 1108 Molded File Chest. Two of the fireproof safes we tested were specifically designed to accommodate hanging files, the Honeywell – 1108 and the First Alert – 2037F. The Honeywell immediately distinguished itself by being large enough to fit both letter and legal size files.

The Honeywell also has a stronger UL-tested fire rating, being able to withstand temperatures up to 1700 °F for up to one hour, while keeping the contents below 350 °F.  The First Alert is only rated for 1,550 °F fires for up to 30 minutes.

Honeywell also promises that this safe’s waterproof seal will keep contents dry when the safe is submerged for 25 hours in one meter of water, although this claim is not verified by the UL or ETL.

This safe’s opening mechanism is identical to the other Honeywell safe we tested, Honeywell – 1104: It has two plastic latches on either side of the key box that open when the key is turned. As with the other safes we tested, the latches and key were not durable.

We found the Honeywell – 1108 difficult to open: Its lid is heavy and has no handles or finger grooves to help lift it. Once the lid is open, however, its hydraulic hinges keep it open and then close the lid slowly.

Best for Hanging Files: Honeywell - 1108

This safe delivers on safety and storage, boasting a strong UL rating and plenty of room for holding both legal and letter size files.

This safe weighs a massive 80.3 pounds, and even with a separately purchased wheel cart, it’s not really portable. Despite its weight, the Honeywell – 1108 delivers where it counts most: fireproofing and storage. We also liked its sleek black aesthetics compared to the dull gray exterior of the SentrySafe.

The Honeywell’s extra fireproofing and size means it costs about $150 more than the other hanging-file safe we tested. However we believe this extra cost was worth it, because it better ensures the safety of your most important documents.

Key takeaways:

  • The Honeywell – 1108 has a roomy interior that can hold both legal and letter size files.
  • Able to withstand 1700 °F for up to one hour, its UL rating is stronger than most hanging-file safes.
  • At 80 pounds, the Honeywell – 1108 is one of the heaviest for this type of safe.

The other finalists we tested

Other safes we tested

First Alert – 2087F-BD

This First Alert – 2087F-BD was comparable to the SentrySafe – SFW123CS in size and functionality. The First Alert also has a spacious interior and weighs about 82 pounds. While this safe’s combination lock and override key were effective, it scored slightly lower because we had difficulty with the combination lock. We needed to consult the instruction manual to figure out the First Alert’s four digit system, and once we did, we found that the safe’s dial lacked audible or haptic feedback, so it wasn’t as easy to use.

While First Alert’’s override key is a handy way to bypass the tricky combination lock, the key also could be a potential security breach if it were found by an intruder. Rather than have two methods for opening the safe, we thought it would be better if the First Alert had an easier combination system.

The First Alert has the same UL classification as the SentrySafe, being able to withstand an hour of exposure to 1700 °F while keeping the interior below 350 °F. It is also ETL verified for data protection (protecting hard drives, USB drives, CDs and DVDs) and water protection.

Aesthetically, the First Alert has a dated look, but it has a mounting option that no other finalist we tested had. Included with the safe is a mounting kit for screwing the safe into the floor. Although the safe is too heavy to lift, the mounting option could be a deterrent to an intruder.

Honeywell – 1104

The Honeywell – 1104 offered top notch protection just like the larger Honeywell – 1108, but we found it less user-friendly than other similarly priced safes. Like the Honeywell – 1108, the Honeywell – 1104 has a heavy lid that’s difficult to lift. Even with the hydraulic hinges, without a groove or latch to assist lifting, we had trouble opening the safe all the way.

The Honeywell – 1104 has a briefcase handle, which is useless if you can’t lift 50-plus pounds with one hand. The key lock is easy to use, but its key and plastic latches are not high quality and could be damaged with force.

The Honeywell – 1104 has a strong UL rating and can withstand temperatures up to 1700 °F for up to an hour, while keeping the contents below 350 °F. Like the Honeywell – 1108, the company independently validates that this safe will keep its contents dry for 24 hours when submerged in up to one meter of water. In comparison to other safes of similar size these ratings are superb.

The Honeywell – 1104 is priced almost the same as the larger safes we tested. Unless you want to cut down on storage space, it makes more sense to purchase the larger safes that have more capacity.

First Alert – 2037F

Like the Honeywell – 1108,  the First Alert – 2037F was specifically designed for storing hanging files. It’s lighter, easier to open and less expensive that the Honeywell, but it can only hold letter-size files. The opening mechanism for the First Alert is a key lock, but it’s made of plastic and could be damaged simply by kicking it.

The First Alert is UL rated to withstand 1,550 °F for up to 30 minutes. It was independently verified by the ETL as being waterproof while fully submerged up to one hour. The First Alerts’ UL rating is on par with other small fireproof safes, and if you’re on a budget, it is an adequate option for keeping important documents safe. That said, we do recommend spending the extra money on the superior Honeywell – 1108.

SentrySafe – 0500

The SentrySafe – 0500’s size is handy if you want to store small items, such as passports, birth certificates or small jewelry. Weighing only 11 lbs, this small safe could be easily tucked away and hidden on the top shelf in a closet. It has a simple lock-and-key mechanism, but the key is made of flimsy metal.

Although the SentrySafe – 0500 is UL verified to withstand 1550 °F for 30 minutes, it has no ETL water-resistance rating. This safe is budget-priced, and it would be fine for small documents you want to keep safe. But if you’re concerned about waterproofing, you should consider one of our other finalists instead.

The bottom line

A strong UL fire rating and a water-resistant rating were our number-one priorities when testing and rating safes. These safes were not designed to be burglar-proof, as evidenced by their cheap plastic handles, latches and keys.

We recommend the SentrySafe – SFW123CS as the best fireproof safe because it has a user-friendly combination lock and can hold larger items, such as jewelry boxes or document bags.

If you want to store hanging files in a fireproof safe we recommend the Honeywell – 1108. This safe offers top-notch protection from fire and water and is large enough to accommodate legal-size files.

Best Overall: SentrySafe - SFW123CS

We recommend the SentrySafe because its combination lock was easy-to-use and secure. This spacious safe can hold large items such as document bags and has a strong UL fireproof rating.

More Reviews