What Type of Safe Is It?

Safe Types
If you call for pricing on safe service of any kind, you'll help the safe company help you if you give information that's easy to understand.
Sometimes we on the service side have to struggle to understand what callers are trying to tell us with regard to their problems. It's usually not their fault, because how could they know the arcane jargon and terminology of safes and vaults?

Often the made-up terms we hear from safe users are enough to give us an idea, but it's also very common to hear some very confusing made-up terms. Not knowing exactly what you have can cause me to misquote your work.

In other words, if I misunderstand what you have or what your problem is, you might hear pricing that is very off-putting to say the least. The other side of this is if I misunderstand what I'm told, provide low-end pricing, you okay it, then I arrive to find that the job to be done is a lot more than I expected, you might feel like I'm pulling the service vendor's version of a bait-and-switch scam on you.

I've had it happen; after getting garbled information and quoting a job in the $150 to $200 range, I find a $500 to $1,000 job waiting to be done. When informed of this, people react with everything from indifferent acceptance to outraged indignation.
Much better to get any price-based refusals over the phone, before I invest any travel or alienate anybody.
So here goes:
Box, fire safe, burglary chest or safe, file, or vault?

Generically speaking, a "box" is one of those microwave oven-sized (or smaller) containers sold at office supply stores or big box stores. It might have a key, a dial, dial and key, or an electronic keypad. All can be opened, some but not all can be restored to use after being opened.

Fire Safes
A fire safe is designed to protect paper contents from fire damage and to also provide limited burglary resistance. Fire safes can be anywhere from knee-high with a single door to six or seven feet high with double doors. With a few exceptions, most fire safes will have wheels. Sometimes the wheels are easily visible, sometimes they're obscured by metal trim.

Insulated Files
These are letter- or legal-sized filing cabinets designed to protect paper records from fire damage. Many people call them "safes" because insulated files typically have the same kinds of combination locks used on safes.

Important: Insulated files are vastly different from what are generically known as GSA or "government files," despite the fact that GSA files have file cabinet-type drawers and combination locks.

Depository Safe or Drop Safe
These can be single or multiple door containers. They have simple slots, or tip-out mailbox-type openings or revolving drum type openings (hoppers) at the top or top front section to allow employees to deposit items without having to know the combination or use a key. They're usually bolted or anchored to the floors they sit on. If they're not, they should be

In-Floor Safe or Floor Safe
As the name suggests, this type of safe is installed in the floor, usually with concrete poured around it. The doors either lift all the way out (no hinges) from the top side like a submarine hatch, or swing open if hinged. They can be round or square.

Important: A safe that sits on the floor is not a "floor safe." A floor safe is installed in the floor.

Floor safes are by their placement often inconvenient and uncomfortable to use, but they do give users very good security against burglary and fire. At left is a round lift-out door, and below is a cutaway drawing that shows a typical in-floor safe installation.

Burglary Chest or Safe
These are generally heavier than fire safes and are designed primarily for burglary protection. Some (more expensive) burglary resistive safes are also built to give fire protection. Like fire safes, burglary safe sizes range from under knee-high to over six feet high. Burglary safe doors can be round, square, or rectangular.

A round (lug) door commercial chest. Designed to slow or defeat nitro-men, torchmen, and safe drillers, in their day chests like this one were among the toughest made in the US.
A rectangular door commercial chest

These are designed for fire and/or burglary protection. A vault is an actual reinforced room or enclosure that people can walk into. The lower sill will be even with the floor at the opening.

While it's true that there are safes big enough to hold an adult, a safe like that is not a vault.


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