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Call Us: + 353 (01) 7076011

isrg logo vds certification logo essa certification logo a2p certification logo

Call Us: + 353 (01) 7076011

  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Guide To European Certification
  • Insurance Rates (ISRG)
  • Help For Insurers
  • Advice Videos
  • Lock Videos
  • Testimonials
  • Blog

Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying A Safe In Ireland

Ireland and the UK are notorious black spots for misrepresentation in the safe supply sector

Misinformation in the safe supply industry takes many forms and has for over twenty years involved not only the marketing of untested safes with baseless "recommended" insurance, burglary resistance and fire ratings but also the marketing of safes known to contain asbestos in contravention of EU and UK legislation which bans such illegal activity.

 

Our Red Flag List:

 The Association of Insurance Surveyors "Safe Rating List"

Safes are generally sold based on their insurance rating, which is the level of insurance cover the safe is likely to get from an insurer based on the safe's proven resistance to burglary attack. The level of burglary resistance for a safe is ascertained by an accredited testing laboratory with the results independently certified by an accredited certification body. In order to sell new and second-hand safes that have no record of testing or certification for burglary resistance whatsoever, the unscrupulous safe supplier needs to convince the client or insurer that the untested safes they are offering are somehow comparable to safes with accredited burglary resistance testing and certification. The official sounding Association of Insurance SurveyorsAiS Safe Rating List” is a powerful marketing tool for untested safes, which does just this.

Since 2005, the Association of Insurance Surveyors Ltd "Safe Committee," a group set-up and dominated by people with interests in selling untested and second-hand safes, has promoted a marketing list of safes, called the "AiS Safe Rating List" both in Ireland and the UK. This document is currently the most referred to document overall, for recommended insurance rates for safes in the UK, and is still referred to by many Irish safe suppliers who sell untested and uncertified safes. The list is a compendium of untested new, second-hand and properly certified safes listed and given recommended insurance rates along-side each other, creating a false equivalency between completely untested safes and properly certified safes with a legal proof of standard. The list itself is "restricted to AiS members" so the basis of the rates it recommends are not available to a client who may be buying a safe, or a standards or insurance expert who might find quotes such as the one below highly problematic, considering insurance rates for safes are generally understood to be based on an accredited proof of standard:

Quote from the restricted AiS Safe Rating List (2018):

There are still some safes manufactured in the UK which are not tested and the committee has impressed on these companies that they should have their safes tested by an approved test house. However, for the benefit of (AiS) members, the committee has provided a cash rating for the un-tested safes from these companies based on information provided by them.


The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) (UK)


The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) (UK) is a mark commonly encountered in the Irish market. LPCB has issued "certification" plates for safes (European standard EN1143-1) and secure cabinets (European standard EN14450) for many years, despite the fact LPCB has never been an accredited certification body for the burglary resistance of safes, not even in the UK, according to the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). LPCB "certification" plates are in a similar format to properly accredited European certification, however, an ISO/IEC17065 accreditation which will be present on most accredited certification plates will be absent from an LPCB plate. The fact that LPCB claim to certify their own tests runs counter to any norms in Europe where both the tester and the certifier are legally required to be independent bodies. LPCB certification claims should not be confused with properly accredited European certification, which has a basis in European law as proof of standard, and on which all safe ratings in Europe are based.


NT FIRE 017 (Nordtest)


The most common unaccredited fire "certification" mark you will come across in the Irish market is without doubt the NT FIRE 017 mark. NT FIRE 017 is a conformity assessment of Nordtest originally founded in 1973 under the Nordic Council of Ministers. This is NOT a European standard. NT017 may be applied to safes and cabinets of identical construction to a tested unit, provided that the external volume of the untested units are not less than half of, and not more than twice the volume of the tested unit. This means in a series of five sizes it is usually only necessary that one unit is tested, leaving the majority of cabinets and safes marked NT017 in such a series not tested. Additionally internal heat during the NT017 test is measured by thermocouples (sensors used to measure temperature ) placed at the centre of internal panels rather than at the corners as is the case with European and US testing. This placement of thermocouples will of course produce a more favourable result as panels will heat from edges to the centre during a fire. Additionally, NT017 does not include a drop test to simulate structural collapse of the kind that would likely happen in an intense fire.

 


Second-hand safes that contain Asbestos


Safes, document and filing cabinets that contain asbestos continue to be sold on the second-hand market in Ireland and the UK, by well-known safe suppliers. The ban on asbestos in Ireland in 2000, far from seeing a reduction in the amount of safes and cabinets that contained asbestos instead saw a surge, as thousands of contaminated safes became available on the second-hand market as they were removed from all over Europe and the UK. With a low level of awareness when it comes to the issue of asbestos in safes and cabinets, huge quantities of these contaminated products have been sold, sometimes being passed off a "almost new" having been re-sprayed and refitted. In Ireland’s case, importation of contaminated safes, fire cabinets and vaults, has happened on an industrial scale and continued well after our national asbestos ban thanks to the free movement of goods within Europe right up until Brexit. Any safe manufactured before 2000 must be presumed to contain asbestos. 

As things stand today in 2022 safes and cabinets that contain asbestos continue to be sold on a daily basis, all over Ireland, by prominent safe suppliers and in private sales. Large numbers of these units are not only in circulation, but more are currently being removed from bank and post office closures where there is no accountability for their disposal, nor a requirement to verify that removal and disposal was done taking the likelihood of asbestos contamination into account. Most of these units make their way back on to the second-hand safe market and can be found for sale on classified ads websites or are sold as "refurbished" safes by well-known safe suppliers.

 


 For advice call: +353 1 7076011


Alan Redd Certified Safes Ireland NSAI

Certified Safes Ireland™ director Alan Donohoe Redd is a member of the European CEN263 Working Group responsible for writing European Standards for safes, strongrooms (vaults), secure cabinets and physical data protection for the European Union. A registered NATO supplier and a longstanding member of the European Security Systems Association, Alan has a vast range of experience spanning almost 40 years and encompassing installation of safes, strongrooms, physical data protection, CCTV, alarms, access control, secure storage control systems and Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) specification, design, and installation.

Alan is an expert on standards and fraud issues related to secure storage in Europe and the UK, has had articles related to these subjects published by The Law Society Gazette and Irish Broker Magazine, has forced retractions of multiple false claims related to secure storage offerings to the public, including some published by the Irish Times, and has been pivotal in having misleading standards and practises recognised and withdrawn in Ireland, the UK and at a European level.

 

Due Diligence Notes

 Most locksmiths know very little about safes

Contrary to what many people may believe the profession of "Locksmith" has long been recognised as one almost completely separate from the supply and installation of safes and strongrooms in the E.U. With most insurers and An Garda Síochána (Irish Police) advising against the use of mechanical locks on safes due to the ease of opening via non-invasive manipulation, the last connection between these two professions is quickly disappearing. There are exceptions to every rule, and a locksmith may have the necessary knowledge to correctly specify, survey for, and anchor a certified safe, however, most locksmiths have very little knowledge in relation to European standards for safes and The Private Security Authority (PSA) does not require any qualifications to issue a locksmith license.

 Pitfalls & scams in the safe supply industry

Ireland and the UK are notorious black spots for fraud and misrepresentation in the safe supply sector. Well-known safe suppliers being penalised for tax evasion and having served time in jail are just some indications of a wide range of malpractice and illegal activity throughout the safe supply industry. We strongly encourage due diligence before engaging a safe supplier or having someone survey your home or business, irrespective of who recommends them.