European Safe and Lock Testing

The subject of safe testing and certification is a complex one. The main point to draw from this document is that you should always seek a safe that is independently tested and certified, whether you need security protection, fire protection or both. It is also extremely important that the independent tester/certifier is trustworthy, experienced and recognised by Western European insurance companies.

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What are European Standards?
European standards, known as European Norms (EN), are drawn up by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). The CEN is a non-profit making organisation which contributes to the objectives of the European Union by drawing up voluntary technical standards to help promote, amongst other things, free trade and consumer rights.


Why are European Standards important?
European standards help provide certainty, references, and benchmarks for designers, engineers and service providers. But most importantly consumers can be sure that they are comparing like with like when making their product choice.


How are European Standards drawn up?
Standards are developed through a consensus process, with input from industry, authorities and civil society that is largely put forward by national standards bodies (i.e. BS). Once draft standards are available they are made public for consultation before being made final by a formal vote. The new European Standards must then be transposed into national standards and existing conflicting standards withdrawn. This process generally takes a long time!


What European Standards apply to safes and locks?
The most common standards for safes are EN14450 S1 & S2 (secure safe cabinets), EN1143-1 - Grades 0 – XIII (safes, ATMs & strongrooms), EN1143-2 – Grades 0-X (deposit safes) , EN1047-1 - 60 min-120 min (storage cabinets resistance to fire), EN1047-2 – 60 min (data rooms & containers), EN15659 – 30 min -60 min (light fire storage units). Locks are tested to EN1300 (Class A – Class D).


Where are safes and locks tested?
Most European countries have their own independent testing laboratories and manufacturers are free to choose whichever of these they like. Some companies test products in-house, especially when it comes to fire testing. In all cases consumers should be very wary of companies who have not sent their products to independent test laboratories.


What is the difference between testing & certification?
The European standard requires that a product is attack or fire tested in a certain way. This work is carried out by a test laboratory and they record the results to give each product a grade or a pass/fail. If a safe is successful in passing the test, a certification mark is then issued. Sometimes the certification is issued by the test laboratory, other times this is done by a secondary certification body. The certification body will ensure that the safes sold in the marketplace are the same as the model that passed the attack test. A good certification body will hold detailed drawings of the products and perform regular audits of the manufacturer to ensure they do not alter the design or construction of the safe. A good quality certification body should be accredited to EN45011. So it is very important that a product is both tested & certified, otherwise the consumer and/or insurer is not guaranteed to get what expected.


Why is it important where safes and locks are tested?
Not all laboratories have the same levels of experience and expertise. Because the safe standards rely on human led attacks (especially EN14450, EN1143-1 & EN1143-2), the knowledge and experience of the test teams is very important. As a result of this some UK insurers specify that they will only accept security safes certified by more reliable institutions such as ECBS, VDS, SBSC, ICIM, CNPP/A2P & LPCB; or fire safes certified by ECBS, SP, MPA and UL.


Isn’t standardisation supposed to prevent this?
Yes, but unfortunately it doesn’t because EN test standards can be open to interpretation and the techniques used by testers can vary. It is also important to remember that these laboratories are businesses. The VDS wins business because it is the best and products carrying its mark are, perhaps, then seen as being more prestigious. This obviously leaves a business opportunity for laboratories that win trade by being both cheaper and a little less thorough/experienced.


Doesn’t anyone try to ‘standardise’ the standardisers?
Yes, there is a group of test centres/certifiers who have signed a multilateral agreement to moderate each other’s work and to share data and information for the EN14450, EN1143-1 & EN1143-2 standards. This group is called EFSG (European Fire & Security Group) and for safe testing it consists of the following laboratories and certification bodies: ECBS, VDS, CNPP, SBSC/SSF/SP, and ICIM/IG. There is also a European standard to regulate product certifiers, EN45011. This standard ensures that the certification bodies follow correct procedures and hold correct data. Certification bodies adhering to this standard will be independently inspected on an annual basis. Laboratories falling outside of the EFSG group and certifiers not regulated according to EN45011 are not necessarily unreliable but, unfortunately in reality, most are.


How am I supposed to understand all this? 
The vast number of acronyms in use does make it confusing but basically Burton Safes recommends that customers buy a safe that carries a certificate from an EFSG member, namely ECBS, VDS, SBSC, CNPP & ICIM.


So where does this leave non EFSG certificated products? 
Most UK insurance companies are now insisting that their clients buy safes with either an ESFG certificate (ECBS, VDS, CNPP, ICIM, SBSC) or an LPCB one. As a general rule of thumb anything with a certificate from elsewhere will be downgraded by the insurance industry. Grade 0-Grade 2 safes are moved down by one grade each. Grade 3 and upwards are downgraded by two grades each.


Where does this leave Burton Safes?
Where we offer products to EN1143-1 & EN1143-2 we exclusively promote those certified by ECBS, VDS & SBSC. Our safes to EN14450 are certified by ECBS, VDS, ICIM and Sold Secure. Sold Secure is the only organisation here that is not part of the EFSG group. Sold Secure is owned and run by the Master Locksmiths Association and we believe that they are very capable testers of lower security safes. All our safes claiming fire protection are certified by ECBS or UL.


Surely that’s all of the acronyms and associations covered? 
No I’m afraid not, though we are nearly there. The last organisations to be aware of are the Association of Insurance Surveyors (AIS), Eurosafe and Secured by Design (SBD). Each year the AIS compile a list of all safes available in the UK, both currently and historically, and issue them to many different insurers as a reference list. If a company wants their current products on this list, and to be able to also advertise them as AIS approved, then those safes must have a test certificate from an EFSG test laboratory, LPCB or Sold Secure. Eurosafe is a European wide association of safe manufacturers and distributors whose constitution states that all members must actively supply and promote safes that have a certificate from an EFSG member laboratory. Finally SBD is a scheme run by the UK Police to promote products that are tested to the highest standards and they now approve all products that carry a test certificate from ECB-S, LPCB or Sold Secure.


How are safes attack tested?
The EN standards give a list of tools, divided into different categories, depending on how effective they, how expensive they are, how portable they are and how easy they are to use. The testers attempt to make partial (hand size) and full access holes in the safes using the tools on the list. Depending on the time taken to gain access a score is given. This score will equate to a Grade. There are some more complexities to it but this forms the main basis of the testing to EN14450, EN1143-1 & EN1143-2. The EN1143-2 standard also includes a fishing test, in which attempts to remove an object through the deposit trap.


How are safes fire tested? 
They are put into furnaces and quickly heated to a very high (usually around 900°C-1000°C) temperature within a fixed timeframe; there is a time/temperature curve that the test procedure must follow. The product will then remain in the furnace for a preagreed length of time, usually 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes or 120 minutes. Thermocouples placed at strategic places within the safe measure the internal temperature. If the internal temperature reaches above the known level for the type of media looking to be protected (paper, hard computer data or floppy diskettes) the product is deemed to have failed. More rigorous tests also include dropping the safe from a high height to simulate it falling through a burning floor, and a soak out period. They also ensure that thermocouples are placed at more critical points, as often the heat build-up inside is not necessarily evenly distributed.


Insurance Cover

Grade 0 = £6000 cash, £60000 valuables

Grade 1 = £10000 cash, £100000 valuables

Grade 2 = £17500 cash, £175000 valuables

Grade 3 = £35000 cash, £350000 valuables

Grade 4 = £60000 cash, £600000 valuables

Grade 5 = £100000 cash, £1000000 valuables

Grade 6 = £150,000 cash, £1500000 valuables

Grade 7 = £250,000 cash, £2,500,000 valuables

Grade 8 =£400,000 cash, £4,000,000 valuables

Grade 9 = £650,000 cash, £6,500,000 valuables

Grade 10 = £1,000,000 cash, £10,000,000 valuables

Grade 11 = £1,500,000 cash, £15,000,000 valuables

Grade 12 = £2,250,000 cash, £22,500,000 valuables

Grade 13 = £3,500,000 cash, £35,000,000 valuables


Which class locks on which class safes?

Safes tested to EN14450 (S1 & S2) must be fitted with an EN1300 Class A lock.

Safes and strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grade 0 – 2 must be fitted with one EN1300 Class A lock.

Safes and strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grade 3 must be fitted with one EN1300 Class B lock.

Safes and strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grades 4 - 5 must be fitted with two EN1300 Class B locks.

Safes and strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grades 6 - 10 must be fitted with two EN1130 Class C locks.

Strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grades 11 - 12 must be fitted with either three EN1300 Class C locks 
or two EN1300 Class D locks.

Strong rooms tested to EN1143-1 Grade 13 must be fitted with two EN1300 Class D locks.


Fire tests
In-house - Not reliable.
DIN4102 – Not a test standard for safes and therefore unreliable.
BS476 – Not a safe test standard and therefore unreliable.
NT Fire 017 – A Nordic fire test standard for safes.
UL72 - A good quality US fire safe standard. There are two versions, with and without drop test.
EN15659 – Similar to NT Fire but slight more rigorous, due to the placement of the thermocouples.
EN1047-1 – The highest of the European fire safe standards. This includes a drop test and a soak out period.
EN1407-2 – Similar to above but for data rooms, rather than safes. 


Widely accepted attack test laboratories
VDS – Germany
SSF – Sweden
SP – Sweden
Insituto Giordano – Italy
CNPP - France


Widely accepted fire test laboratories
SP – Sweden
MPA – Germany


Widely accepted safe certification bodies
ECBS – Germany
VDS – Germany
SBSC – Sweden
SP – Sweden
ICIM – Italy
CNPP/A2P – France