What You Need to Know

Finding a safe that satisfies your requirements doesn't need to be difficult, but it will help if you have some background information. This information page will give you a brief description of some of the common terms you will need to be familiar with before you purchase a safe.

The Australian/New Zealand Standards use the term "Secure Storage Units" to describe what are more commonly known as safes or strongrooms. Secure storage units are designed to protect cash, valuables and documents against theft or destruction and range in size from small domestic safes to large strongrooms. Secure storage units fall into several types:

Free-standing safes range from minimal security fire cabinets to high security bank safes. All free-standing safes under 1 tonne need to be firmly bolted down and most come standard with bolt holes.

In-ground safes offer moderate security for minimal cost. As the name suggests in-ground safes are installed below ground and are embedded in concrete. These safes are easy to conceal with carpet or other flooring material.

Strongrooms are secure rooms built into the building structure. Access to this room is via a strongroom door.

Safes and strongrooms are classified into five grades according to Australian Standard AS/NZ 3809:1998. These grades should be used as a guide when purchasing a safe or strongroom. The table below sets out these grades.

Grading Typical Application Approx. Rating
Extra high security (Strongrooms only) High volume financial institutions, safe deposit, mercantile properties Over $50000
High Security Major jewellers, major retailers, financial institutions, banks, clubs, TAB, casinos Over $50000
Medium Security Large retail, department stores, post offices, hotels $35-50000
Commercial Security Large factories, medium retail, real estate agents $10-35000
Basic Security Homes, small business, offices $0-10000

Manufacturers will often state the Recommended Insurance Rating of their safes. This rating refers to the recommended total value of goods that should be secured in a safe. This value will help you judge if the safe you are looking at will be suitable for securing your valuables. In the table above we've included an approximate rating for each of the gradings. We've also used this table to determine the classifications in our product range.

There is a big difference between these two terms. To obtain a fire rating, a safe must be tested according to the relevant standards (see JIS S 1037 Standard Fire Test and UL Testing Procedures). These test are rigorous and expensive. As a result many safe manufacturers do not Rate, but instead state the Fire Resistance of their safes.


Unless stated otherwise Fire Ratings only refer to the protection of paper. Sensitive materials such as stamps, microfilm, diskettes and magnetic media will require the higher protection offered by data inserts or data safes.