Safe Engineers

Safe Specialists

Some Safe Information

Bradley's have been servicing and supplying safes for over 20 years now and have a large range of safes in stock ranging from as little as £20 up to £900 with many more only a phone call away. Manufacturers such as Churchill, Dudley, Chubb, Dominator, Burton & Phoenix offer ranges which allow us to supply to domestic and professional customers with almost any type of safe to suit the customers needs.

At Bradleys Master Locksmiths we sell New and Reconditioned Safes. The current range is not exhaustive with more added weekly so feel free to contact us directly on 01670 352974 or through this form for other options.

As a general rule, there are 3 different types of safe, above floor, underfloor, and the wall safe. The above floor, or free standing safes, are the easiest to use and are available in a large range of size and quality. These safes are further divided into burglar resistant and fire resistant safes.

It is necessary for the customer to decide which they feel is the greater risk to them, burglary or fire, for although most fire safes offer a degree of security, they are not up to the same standard of the burglar resistant safe. Conversely, most burglar resistant safes will offer a degree of fire protection but would be largely useless in protecting computer media or photographs in a fire.

For customers who call into our shop and are unsure which type of safe to buy, I usually ask "How many houses in your street have been broken into or suffered a theft over the past 10 years and how many have burned to the ground in the same period". Most people then choose a burglar resistant safe...

Please check out the tabs below for further explanation of fire and theft resistant safes.

Always check with your local qualified Master Locksmith and your insurance company when choosing a safe for your home or business. Recent Government statistics show that there are over 1,500,000 unlawful entries each year, half of which are domestic, and half are commercial premises. For well over 95% of these, the intruder will remain on the premises for less than 5 minutes while the response time for an alarm call is over 10 minutes. This gives the burglar ample time to remove easily carried equipment and valuables such as videos, TV's, computers, watches, jewellery, cash and credit cards. However, it does not allow him sufficient time to locate and open a small free standing or underfloor safe.

Fire is another threat. More than 110, building fires breakout in the UK each year. The loss of mortgage deeds, share certificates and other paper or computer media information are other items, which could be kept out of harms way in a safe. Statistics show that up to one third of businesses, which lose their stored information, go into bankruptcy within 2 years of the loss.

In a recent interview, Mr Keith Bradley, who is a qualified safe engineer, said " We have bought and sold safes for over 20 years now, and have seen the amount of people installing safes into homes and small businesses increase dramatically over recent years. It is important though, to make sure that you have bought the correct safe for your requirements. If you don't, insurance companies may not be prepared to cover a loss through burglary or fire if the wrong type of safe has been fitted. Ideally, speak to a qualified locksmith or safe engineer, and preferably a member of the Master Locksmiths Association as the Association inspect members regularly to ensure that the members are kept up to date with changes in legislation and other requirements".

It is very important it is to make sure you have the correct safe for your requirements, as can be seen from the cuttings below which were taken from the Which Report on domestic safes in back in March 2006 (go to then enter 'safes' in the search field)

'Which' report early 2006

Nine of the 15 safes on test are Don't Buys. In most cases, you get what you pay for. All the safes costing £50 or less were easily broken into.

Fire safes, such as the £283 Sentry S3607 and £234 Sentry S0409, may protect paper documents in a fire, but offer poor security.

Incredibly, our experts picked the locks of the Argos and Detroit in five seconds. It took 22 seconds to drill open the Burton, so it's not a patch on its Best Buy brother, the Burton Torino, while the Yale was prised open in ten seconds by whacking it hard with a metal bar.

'Which' Burton Torino Safe Report

The Burton Torino GMK/ is rated as our Best Buy and is easily the most secure safe we tested.

It successfully passed every trial our experts put it through. We drilled it, hammered it and tried to wedge open the door with a hammer and chisel, but it wouldn't budge. It's the only model on test that we couldn't get into at all - so you can put important documents and small valuables in it with confidence.

(The Burton Torino is available from Bradleys - please check elsewhere on the site or contact us for details)

Crazy as it may seem, last year we were called out to a home to gain access to one of the safes mentioned in the above article (one which took the experts 5 seconds to open) and the customer had over £23,000 in cash in the safe! Definately NOT recommended...

Amongst these pages you will find help files explaining some of the common - though sometimes confusing - terms used in the safe engineering world.

Moving Safes

Training on stairclimber 1 & Training on stairclimber 2

Robert preparing a zugil 1900mm high 1600kg safe & Rob opening Belmont 5020 safe

Bill commisioning SLS super commercial 1 6325 a & 1600kg ministry safe being moved at night

Rob & Bill with 1600kg safe & Moving warehouse july 2012 021

2 x 480kg safes ready to be lifted from 800mm high plinth & Alan fixing a Sistec 1280kg safe

Wall safes such as the Securikey 3 brick size shown here, have been around for many years and in most cases have been quite sufficient for the owners needs.

However, times change and wall safes are rarely installed nowadays. The main reasons for this are:

• Lack of internal size: Most wall safes are only the depth of a house brick and are too small for larger items such as cameras or laptop computers.

• Installation difficulties: Many modern houses do not have the solid walls required for the installation of a wall safe.

• Insurance ratings: Many insurance companies are reluctant to give high cash cover rating to these safes because, although they may be strong and of good quality, it has been known for wallsafes to be prised out of the wall and taken from the premises by the burglar and opened later at their leisure.

• Position: It is necessary to make sure the safe is out of view whilst still being easy to use. This usually means having to move furniture or a painting every time you wish to open the safe. After time, this may leave tell-tale signs of the safes position.

• Lack of fire proofing: Because of their construction, wall safes do not normally offer any fire protection. Because of their construction, wall safes do not normally offer any fire protection.

• However, if you have the perfect place to install a wall safe there is still a range of sizes available and we are able to offer the Securikey range which comes in 3 standard sizes - the 2, 3 & 4 brick sizes. Currently, insurance companies offer around £750 overnight cash cover for standard models and £1,500 cash cover for the Securikey extra deep range.

Extra Deep Models

Shown to the right is one of the Securikey Deep wall safes. These high quality safes are available to order in 5 different sizes ranging from the size 1 measuring 330mm high x 490mm wide x 220mm deep up to the size 7a at 844mm high x 494mm wide x 400mm deep. Please ask for details.

Underfloor safes first came into their own during the 1960s when prices of good quality free standing safes rocketed and deliveries of up to 26 weeks were being quoted by many manufacturers. This provided a hole in the market for an economical 'off the shelf' alternative to the traditional free standing safe.

Underfloor safes are 'just what they say on the tin' - safes which are fitted under the floor. As a small metal box, the safe itself is of little use in a security sense as the only part of the safe which is really protected is the door. Consequently, the underfloor safe needs to be embeded into concrete to complete the security of the product. (see instructions below)

When installing a floor safe, please check to make sure the area is not prone to flooding or excessively wet due to the local water table. If there is any doubt, install the unit elsewhere or use two thicknesses of 500g polythene damp course taking great care not to puncture the polythene. Always check to make sure there are no underground electrical, gas or water services before excavating any floors area.

Preparation - Wooden Floors

To install the safe into a wooden floor, arrange timber shuttering to form an area which is at least 200mm larger in length and width and 100mm deeper than the safe.

It may be necessary to cut away part of the joist and support the exposed end of any such joists.

Dig out hardcore to required depth and line the cavity with damp course polythene sheeting of 500g minimum.

Preparation - Concrete Floors

To install the safe into an existing concrete floor prepare a hole which is at least 100mm larger in width, depth and length than the safe.

Hardcore and rubble must be removed if the hole depth exceeds the floor depth and the damp proof course made good using damp course polythene sheet of 500g minimum.

Ensure the joints between the existing damp course and polythene sheet are watertight.


Once the above preparation is complete, compact sufficient concrete in the hole for the safe to be worked down to its correct depth. The rim of the safe should lie approximately 3mm below the finished floor surface if the cover supplied is to be used. If no wire cage has been supplied with the safe, cut 4 weldmesh panels and place in position around the sides of the safe.

Dry mix ingredients thoroughly before adding water. The usual mix would be 1 part cement, 1½ parts sand to 3 parts of course aggregate (20mm but use 10mm for the top 100mm to help ensure a smooth finish). Test the consistency of finished mix by squeezing a lump in the hand. This should hold together without having too much water oozing from it.

Fill the hole with layers of concrete100mm thick, compacting each layer thoroughly by tamping with a steel rod to ensure all recesses are adequately filled. Finish off with at least one layer of weldmesh embeded into the top 100mm layer of concrete.

Above floor installations can be an alternative to the underfloor option. This is done by simply making a large timber box and filling this with concrete as described above. It is advisable to check that this type of installation is acceptable with your insureres before commencing work.

Free standing or above floor safes are the easiest type of safe to use and are available in a large range of size and quality. These safes are further divided into burglar resistant and fire resistant safes. (Please see pages on the other tab for an explanation of the differences in these types of safe).

Free standing safes have been around since the mid 1800's and tens of thousands of these old safes are still in use in Britain today. Check with your insurer that the safe you have is up to todays standards - most older safes aren't and you may not get the insurance cover you expected in the event of a burglary.

One of the reasons for this is that free standing safes are usually bolted to the floor from the inside of the safe (this does not usually apply to fire safes) which combined with the weight of the safe, is usually sufficient to ensure that the safe cannot be taken away from the owners premises to be opened elsewhere. However, this is not usually the case with the very old safes because of their design and manufacture making them easier to move around and attack.

Cash safes used by jewellers and banks may be over 6ft (approx 2mts) in height, 3ft in width (approx 900mm) weigh between 1 and 2 tonnes and still be bolted to the floor

Fire Resistant Safes/Cabinets

Fire resistant safes are tested by how long they can keep their contents in good condition in the event of a fire.

Higher quality fire safes and cabinets, are heated for periods of 60 to 240 minutes and then are dropped from a height of around 9mts and then cooled by water hose. This is to simulate a severe fire and the subsequent collapse of the building and rapid cooling when the fire brigade arrives to extinguish the fire. The contents are then checked for their condition and the safe is rated for what is considered to be the maximum time that the contents will remain in good condition. Many manufacturers now offer safes which are burglar resistant but also offer a small degree of fire protection and these may be suitable for home use, but businesses should be aware that important documents and computer media should be stored in the correct safe.

More than 110,000 building fires breakout in the UK each year. The loss of mortgage deeds, share certificates and other paper or computer media information are other items, which could be kept out of harms way in a safe. Statistics show that up to one third of businesses, which lose their stored information, go into bankruptcy within 2 years of the loss.

For the technically minded, the Time/temperature curve is 345 log to base 10 (8t + 1) +20 which basically means if the safe is put in a furnace, switched on and left for 60 mins, the max temperature reached in the furnace will be 840’c, in 120 mins it would reach 1000’c and in 240 mins – 1100’c

Some other facts are:
Paper damaged at 150 degrees c
Computer media damaged at 55 degrees c

In the 1800's Milner prodcued a range of safes which when heated, created a steam inside the safe which would help to keep any papers inside slightly damp. Because the temperature in which paper begins to chare is 212f Milners called the range Milners 212, Thief and Fire Resisting Safes. Although good in their day, any fire resistance offered by these safes over 100 years on would be virtually nil.