Finding a 1-hour fire safe was easy. Finding a 2-hour fire safe is quite challenging. I found this item at Sears around 2005. (Currently Sears Item# 00957428000 | Sentry Model# A5882)
Our house burned to the ground in 2008. The flames burned for 10 hours, and we’re told that the temperatures probably reached 1200 degrees Fahrenheit at some times during the blaze. This safe was on the 2nd floor, and it took some days to recover it.
The exterior mechanism had burned off, and there was no way to open it without breaking into it. We learned quite a bit about this safe from the locksmith who opened it for us. Aside from the physical protection of the steel shells and the waterproof seals, the insulation between the inner and outer shells is wet. There are plugs in the back of the safe. When exposed to high heat like our house fire, the insulation heats up and the coolant boils off, pops the plugs, and cools the safe evaporatively.
Our safe contained passports, birth certificates, some wedding negatives and DVDs, and other valuable documents and possessions. As he struggled to open it, the locksmith told us that the evaporative insulation was only half dry; the inner half was still moist, and that’s when he told us that the contents were probably okay.
Sure enough, although everything around the safe had been completely destroyed by the fire, the contents were totally unharmed.
Being able to recover our passports made replacing our other official IDs (drivers licenses, etc.) much easier. It certainly saved us weeks; perhaps months.
As an extra bonus, this safe comes with a form of lifetime guarantee: If it survives a fire or flood and you send them pictures of the sealed damaged safe and the opened safe with its contents intact, Sentinel will replace it free of charge!
Needless to say, we loved our safe! We bought 2 more for ourselves, and gave another 2 away to dear friends who had helped us after the house fire.
If there is a functional caveat, it would be to use standard alkaline AA batteries (it uses 4 for the electronic lock) instead of NiMH rechargeables. The rechargeables might work fine, but the mechanism prefers the throw-away type.
When conversation turns to my house fire, I always encourage purchase of this particular safe. It’s spacious, easy to use, and (obviously) extremely protective.
The model we purchased is sold at Sears (the only place I’ve found a reasonably priced 2-hour fire safe), At 2 cu. ft., it’s huge; large enough for files, small boxes, etc., and costs only about $330. If you do on-site computer file backup, I also suggest keeping a portable hard drive in the safe with your most important files (photo and video files, important docs, etc.), and update the drive regularly.
For the record, this isn’t a commissioned sales pitch. I consider it a public safety announcement. I strongly encourage anyone considering the purchase of a safe to look at this one seriously.
If you’re not looking for a 2-hour fire safe, my advice is, you should be.