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Understanding the differences between the terms ‘fireproof’ and ‘fire resistant’ can help you make the best choices for your home, especially when trying to prevent fire damage to your belongings.

The truth about ‘fireproof’ could be surprising to most people, as there is nothing that is truly fireproof. Given the right conditions and right temperature, anything will eventually burn. The term ‘fireproof’ is given to those products that are able to withstand great heat for a certain period of time. These products will be rated according to those limitations.

In truth, all products and materials are only fire resistant up to a certain temperature. You may need to determine if a specific product will meet the fire protections standards that you require. Fire damage can ruin your personal belongings, so compare the fireproof products available for important papers, photos, and other items that are hard to replace.

The Underwriters Laboratories (a non-profit organization seeking to ensure product safety) has set guidelines for fire protection ratings. These ratings determine how long an item can be exposed to certain temperatures before the internal temperature reaches a point at which it will destroy what is inside. Generally the lower the number, the lower the core temperature guarantee.

Some Facts about Fires:

  • Most home fires will reach temperatures ranging between 800 to 1200 degrees.
  • The higher the temperature, the faster the fire typically burns (although moisture and other factors could also be involved).
  • The average home fire will be contained in under an hour once the fire department is on the scene. The average response time will vary from one service area to another.
  • Working smoke alarms can be key to early detection.
  • It can take as little as thirty seconds for a small fire to burn out of control.
  • The temperatures of the fire can reach extreme different levels. The coolest part of the fire will be on the lowest floor level.
  • It can take as little as five minutes before a ‘flashover’ occurs – the moment where the room becomes so hot that everything ignites at once.
  • Fires move through a space quickly, so one area of the burning building may only burn for a few minutes.

A fire in your home or business cannot always be preventable, but if you plan ahead to protect important documents and other belongings, they may last through a fire for a certain length of time. Another important step in fire prevention is to document your belongings with a thorough list and photos. If you ever need the help of a fire damage specialist, these proactive steps may make a big difference in protecting your property and belongings during a fire.

Once you recognize that the difference between ‘fire resistant’ and ‘fireproof’ is mostly in the rating, you can begin to choose the right product for your needs. Consider which items you are trying to protect, the fire protection rating needed, and whether the protection can fit your budget.