Do you have valuables or papers that need to be protected? What kind of safe should you buy? A safe intended to stop a burglar may not protect your documents in a fire. Conversely, a safe that would protect your documents in a fire may serve as an easy to open box for a burglar to carry away. Consider everything you plan to put in your safe and what you want to protect against. Most safes are tested and labeled to help you choose the right product for your valuables.
Fire Boxes, plastic or metal, are cheap containers with poor quality locks. Their only purpose is to keep papers from burning up in a fire. Look for and read the fire rating sticker. The higher the temperature and the longer the time on the rating the better.
Theft Prevention Boxes are metal boxes designed to discourage valuables from walking. They do not provide fire protection. Screwed to a shelf or drawer they are great for senior retirement apartments or student dorms.
Fire Safes are usually sheet metal with fire retardant material in the walls and door. Some materials form a moisture barrier when heated. If you have photos or stamp collections, you wouldn't want this. Look for a dry fire clay filling instead. Security in these safes improves with thicker sheet metal, better lock and bolt mechanism and temp/time rating. Again, these are meant to protect from fire - not burglary.
Burglar Safes are rated for penetration only. These safes are not for papers or items that would be harmed by heat or fire. The walls and door are made of different thicknesses of steel and bolts. The security improves with thicker steel, better lock and bolt mechanism. Ratings indicate the amount of time it took for professional safe crackers with the proper tools to penetrate and open the safe.
Burglar/Fire Safes are good all round safes. RSC Burglary is the UL residential rating. These safes pass a 1-hour or 2-hour fire test plus a test using professional burglary penetration tools. The amount of time it takes a professional, with knowledge of the drill points, to penetrate the safe determines the strength and rating of the safe.