A Four Point European Standards Checklist For Home Safes

Alan Donohoe, Redd, Managing Director, Certified Safes Ireland.

HIGH-END jewellery and watches are prime targets for home burglars, yet these are the kinds of easily
disposable assets that clients will always want to have in their home, close to hand. The obvious answer to
mitigating this risk is to specify a safe and alarm system. The European standard of burglary resistance for safes, EN1143-1, and EN50131 intruder alarm system standard are benchmarks that provide both insurer and client with standards that are clearly defined, backed by accredited testing and independent accredited certification. However, while statutory regulation exists governing the intruder alarm industry, no similar regulation is in place for the safe industry and the unpalatable reality is that most safes bearing badges that claim compliance with the European burglary resistance standard EN1143-1, do so without any accredited burglary resistance testing or certification whatsoever.

The Legal Situation Technically there is nothing illegal about stating that a particular safe has been manufactured in accordance with European standard EN1143-1. This is simply a statement of opinion, so it is of primary importance that when it is claimed that a safe is certified to EN1143-1 we always ask the question, certified by whom?

“70% of safes tested by accredited European testing labs fail on the first attempt, so the implications of accepting unaccredited claims of EN1143-1 burglary resistance are obvious.”

Heightened due diligence is always required when it comes to either recommending a safe supplier or reviewing the details of a particular home safe. Fortunately, the European system of accredited testing and certification of safes, while not enforced through statutory regulation yet, provides a template of easy-to-follow due diligence to ensure that the interests of the client and the insurer are being protected.

What To Look For

1. Accredited Burglary Resistance Certification Documents

EU Parliament regulation 765/2008 created the system that provides the legal basis of accreditation for the certification of safes to European standard EN1143-1. This system is backed by regular auditing and market surveillance and is verifiable proof of standard for litigation purposes.

A safe with properly accredited European certification will display at least one stamped metal certification plate on the inside of the door. This will always be a stamped metal plate, never a sticker. An accredited certification plate for a safe will display the logo of an accredited certification body, burglary resistance grade, and most importantly confirmation that the certification body is accredited to ISO/IEC 17065.

This is legal assurance that the certifier is accredited under European law. The same information will be available on accredited certification documents which are freely available and should always be asked for.

2. Certificate Of Anchorage To EN1143-1 EN1143-1

Certification is void for a safe that has not been anchored but some safe installers idea of what constitutes “anchoring” can differ wildly from others. The benchmark for the correct anchoring of a certified safe is a replication of the laboratory test anchoring force. This means an anchor designed to achieve a holding force of 50kN (5.089 tons) for a safe up to grade III and 100kN (11.24 tons) over that grade. Holding forces that rule out removing a safe under most circumstances.

All certified safes come with a bolt suitable for achieving these anchoring forces, so it is really down to the installer of the safe being familiar with the correct anchoring method. As with certification, always ask for a certificate of anchorage with the anchoring force the installation was designed to achieve indicated on the document.

3. Confirmation Of EN50131 Compliance For Alarm Signalling Devices

Most properly certified safes are prepared for alarm integration so will have seismic sensor and door contact mounts ready to receive alarm signalling devices. It is also important to realise that most certified digital safe locks have duress signalling capability built in that can provide a client with the opportunity to send a silent panic signal directly from a safe’s keypad.

Most people are familiar with duress or panic alarm signalling but seismic sensors are far more potent devices for reducing risk. Faced with a properly anchored certified safe, a burglar has to deal with what, for all practical purposes is an immovable object. The only recourse being heavy-duty power tools or a heat attack, such as an oxyacetylene torch. Both low cost and easy to install, seismic sensors are always on, even if the alarm system is switched off.

These sensors will detect prising, cutting, drilling and heat attacks, while not being triggered by normal use of the safe. This is why seismic sensors are the most powerful risk reducing addition to any home safe and why a reputable safe supplier needs to be familiar with them. As is the case with certification and anchoring, ask for documentation confirming that any alarm integration devices used to monitor a safe are certified to alarm standard EN50131.

“Do not accept wireless alarm devices fitted to a safe. Wireless sensors can be subject to interference, battery failure and being deliberately blocked, unlike wired devices powered from the alarm system itself.”

The Legal Situation

The Private Security Authority licenses alarm installation in the Republic of Ireland on the basis of European standard EN50131. The standard requires all components to be certified compliant with the standard.

An uncertified alarm signalling device installed as part of the system voids compliance and even leaves both the installer and the client open to prosecution. An Garda Síochána will not respond to an unlicensed alarm system or an unverified alarm activation. To trigger a response from An Garda Síochána a monitoring station must verify that an alarm is genuine and not a malfunction.

This can bedone in a number of ways, but in the context of a safe we need two sensor activations. As most safes come with multiple sensor mounts, this is a straightforward install for a qualified and licensed alarm installer.

4. Confirmation Of EN1300 For Safe Locks

It has always been possible to open a mechanically locked safe by manipulation leaving no trace of entry. Both the knowledge and tools to defeat most mechanical safes locks are very easily obtained and of course keys for safes are also easily copied, even from a photograph. In comparison, the penalty lockout feature of a certified digital safe lock shuts a safe lock down for ten minutes if four incorrect codes are entered in a row.

With the ability to interface with duress and alarm modules, unavailable for a mechanical lock, mechanical access control for a safe has been phased out in most of Europe. The Irish Safes Ratings Group (ISRG) and An Garda Síochána recommend certified digital safe locking over mechanical for security reasons. Certification documents for safe locking devices are freely available.

Particularly if a safe is to be electronically integrated into a home for alarm monitoring or audit purposes, ask for a copy of the lock’s certification to EN1300. Inspecting What You Expect Four Point European Standards Checklist For Home Safes:

  • Ask for EN1143-1 certification documents for the safe displaying an ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation.

  • Ask for a certificate of anchorage to ensure the safe has been anchored to EN1143-1.

  • Verify that any alarm signalling devices (if any) used on the safe are EN50131 compliant.

  • Confirm the main safe locking device is certified to EN1300.

Alan Donohoe Redd is managing director with Certified Safes Ireland™ and an internationally recognised expert involved in writing standards for safes, strong rooms, and physical data protection for the European Union.

An official NSAI expert and registered NATO supplier, Alan is also convenor of the Irish Safes Ratings Group (ISRG) that advises on insurance rates for secure storage in the Republic of Ireland.