International (Nig) Ltd

Guide to Ballistic, Cash & Fire Ratings


53mm BRG panel following ballistic testBullet Resistant Glass (BRG) is very different from ordinary glass and is made from layers of polycarbonate (a tough type of plastic) that is sandwiched in between pieces of toughened glass. This sandwich of layers is called a laminate. It can be up to ten times thicker than a single pane of ordinary glass and it's usually very heavy.

When a bullet strikes BRG, its energy is spread out sideways through the laminated layers. The energy is quickly absorbed because the impact is spread through several layers of glass and plastic and therefore over a larger area. The bullet is slowed down so much that it no longer has sufficient energy (measured in joules) to penetrate the BRG barrier or to do much damage should it do so. Although the BRG panes do craze when struck by a bullet (as shown), the plastic layers stop them from flying apart and spalling. If you think of BRG as "energy-absorbing" glass, you'll have a good idea of how it works.

Ballistic strike on glass & BRGA single pane of glass is inelastic, meaning that it cannot flex much when it’s hit, and so when a speeding bullet strikes it, the force exceeds the fracture strength of the glazing causing it to shatter.

When a bullet hits BRG, the first layer of glass will shatter. However the next layer of polycarbonate is more elastic and is able to flex when the bullet strikes it and so dissipate the energy in every direction across the laminated layers. The effect is to absorb the energy from the bullet’s point of impact slowing it down sufficiently to prevent it from penetrating the matrix.

Traditionally BRG is made from alternating layers of glass, Matrix of BRG laminatetypically 3–10mm thick, and plastic, that consists of a thin film of polyvinyl butryal (PVB) of around 1–3mm thick. Newer and stronger types of BRG may use a sandwich of glass and toughened plastic made of polycarbonate or acrylic glass, with the thick glass and plastic layers separated by thinner films of various plastics such as polyurethane or PVB (known as interlayers).

Matrix of BRG LaminateTo make PVB-based BRG, a thin PVB film is sandwiched between the thicker glass to make a laminate, which is heated and compressed so that the plastic melts and begins to bond with the glass. This process happens in a vacuum to prevent air becoming trapped between the layers, which would weaken the laminate and disrupt its optical properties by distorting the light that passes through. The glazing is then fully "cooked" in an autoclave (an industrial pressure cooker) at a much higher temperature of about 150°C and pressure up to about 13 to 14 bars. The main skill in this process is in ensuring that the plastic and glass layers bond together properly with no air trapped between them, and that the autoclave's heat and pressure doesn't distort the plastic so that it becomes opaque and difficult to see through.

BRG glazing comes in all shapes and sizes to provide different levels of protection for each particular circumstance. You're most likely to find BRG installed in places like banks, where the tellers typically sit behind ballistic screens and use bullet-resistant pay trays to exchange cash and paperwork with customers. BRG ProfilesGenerally speaking, the thicker the glass and the more layers it has, the more energy it can absorb and the more protection it will provide. BRG glazing ranges from a basic thickness of about 28mm up to 78mm, but can be thicker if required. The problem is that the thicker the BRG glazing, the heavier and darker it becomes.

Most people in the bullet-resistant industry find the official test and certification levels rather perplexing and confusing. One of the reasons for this is that there are several internationally recognised test standards all of which have different criteria that are conducted by the testing facilities in a slightly different manner. A further confusion is that some of the lower test levels are more difficult to pass than the higher ones. One possible explanation for this seemingly disordered rating system is that the BRG is not rated according to the level of destruction caused to the barrier materials, but rather to the threat posed to the people standing behind those materials.

To make the various test standards easier to understand, we have provided a simple chart showing the various comparative test levels of five of the major internationally recognised standards organisations viz. Britain’s BS, Europe’s CEN, America’s UL and NIJ and Germany’s (BRD) DIN, together with the weapons & ammunition with their approximate ballistic qualities and the BRG thickness required to protect against them.

BRG Ballistics Table


  • What is the value of the items to be secured?

  • Do you require insurance cover for the contents?

  • If so, consult your insurer as they may specify a grade or cash rating.

  • Is fire protection needed?

  • If fire protection is needed, is it for paper or computer media?

  • What level of protection is required?

  • Do you prefer a free-standing, cupboard, underfloor or wall safe?

  • Do you require a deposit facility?

  • Do you prefer key, electronic PIN code or biometric locking?


European Test Standards have been in place since the late 1990’s, and have gained widespread recognition and acceptance by the insurance industry. These standards provide both the consumer and the insurer an independent and unbiased opinion of the levels of protection provided by individual security products. Generally speaking if you purchase security equipment that has not been independently tested and certified you will likely be taking a chance with your cash and valuables.

You can see how easy it can be to open a low-grade safe by viewing the link below.

 How safe is your Safe?

In recent years it has become apparent that not all test centres apply the European Standard as rigorously as others. For this reason, some insurance companies specify that they will only offer cover on security equipment that has been certified by one of the more reliable and reputable institutions. We have provided below some of the more common certificate labels that you can expect to find on security equipment that has been tested to one of the international standards, certified by a major testing facility and approved within the insurance industry.

British Standards - Kite Mark for Standards and Testing Comité Européen de Normalisation - European Standards Organisation Underwriters Laboratories Inc - US Standards and Testing National Institute of Justice - Research and Evaluation Agency for the US Dept of Justice

Deutsches Institut für Normung - German Standards Organisation Loss Prevention Certification Board - British Independent Testing and Certification European Certification Body - German Independent Testing and Certification Vertrauen durch Sicherheit - German Independent Testing and Certification

South African Bureau of Standards - for Standards and Testing Centre National de Prévention et de Protection - Assurance Prévention Protection -  French Burglary Testing and Certification Loss Prevention Research Council - US Independent Research and Evaluation Agency for Retailers Statens Provningsanstalt Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut - Swedish Research Institute

Istituto di Certificazione Industriale per la Meccanica - Italian Fire Protection Certification Nordtest - Scandinavian Conformity Assessment, Testing and Certification Association of Insurance Surveyors - British Independent Risk Assessors


Physical security products are typically classified in terms of a cash rating, which is the level of insurance cover that an underwriter will give to the contents, and this rating value can generally be multiplied by 10 for non-cash items such as jewellery and other similar valuables. A cash rating is therefore also an indication of the level of security provided by the equipment ie, the higher the rating, the greater the resistance it should provide against various methods of attack.

Insurance companies' ratings vary and so higher or lower cover will usually be offered depending upon the particular circumstances of your property. The below ratings provide only a very general guideline and do not necessarily reflect the real value of cash that can actually be secured by the equipment. Therefore it is important that you check with your insurer before purchasing your security equipment to ensure that you will receive the insurance cover that you need.

Cash Rating Comparison Charts

RSC (TL-5)$500Ratings
for Secure
EN14450-S1 €2,500

Cash Ratings for Safes

Cash Ratings for Strongrooms and Vault doors

AiS Approved Association of Insurance Surveyors

Where you see the AiS (Association of Insurance Surveyors) logo is on a product, it will have been given its full rating by all major UK insurers. The badge means that the AIS has been provided with a copy of the test certificate and has recognised it to be valid and from a reputable test facility. The safe will be listed in their Official Safe List that is used by many insurance companies around the world.


Most safes will offer some level of fire protection, but plate and single-wall safes offer very little. There are different grades of fire protection test standards established by European and American certification authorities that provide unbiased results on the reliability of individual types of fire cabinets. These standards generally differentiate between cabinets that will protect paper documents and those that will protect computer data media. Computer media is destroyed at a much lower temperature than paper and so requires a specialised Data Cabinet to provide adequate protection. Below is a list of some of the more common fire test standard ratings and certificates:

Certificates for Fire Protection Tests on Paper Documents up to 900ºC

EN15659 LFS 30P:30 mins
EN15659 LFS 60P:60 mins
NT FIRE 017 60P:60 mins
UL 72-350:60 mins

EN1047-60P Superior 60 mins
EN1047-120PSuperior 120 mins

Certificates for Fire Protection Tests on Computer Data Media up to 900ºC

EN1047 60D: 60 mins
NT Fire 90D: 90 mins
EN1047 120D: 120 mins

 Data Cabinet fire test


When replacing a lock, the importance of fitting genuine, good quality, high-security locks cannot be over emphasised. There are available in the market many cheaper fake and copy locks that are often more easily picked and less reliable than their genuine OEM counter-parts. Using these alternatives will likely compromise the integrity and security of your equipment.

Key Locks are installed on most safes as standard, which are usually the most economical locking method providing great reliability, longevity and durability. The disadvantage of high-security lock keys is that they can be bulky to carry around and it can be obvious to onlookers what they are. Keys can also be lost or copied, thus compromising your security.Kaba Mauer Variator 11-Lever Double-bit Key Lock
Mechanical Keyless Combination Locks (KCL) offer a more reliable alternative to programmable electronic digital code locks and also provide durability with stronger mechanical parts than electronic components, 24/7 access with no concerns about batteries or power outages and longevity, with very few breakdowns particularly when serviced regularly. However, for the unfamiliar they can be difficult to use, have none of the extra features offered by electronic locks and when there is a change of personnel the combination codes can be forgotten or lost resulting in a lock-out.S&G 3-Wheel KCL With Dial and  Spindle

Electronic Locks are typically more convenient than keys, are generally reliable and can be operated by programmable PIN codes or by biometric methods such as fingerprints. Cheap electronic locks from unknown manufacturers should be avoided, because they are often unreliable and usually provide low levels of security. There are different grades of electronic locks available at different price levels and can have various features that offer advantages over KCLs and keys - usually the more features that are required, the more expensive the lock.

Electronic Lock Features:

Wittkopp CombiStar 7250-Pro Programmable Electronic Digital Code Lock

  • PIN Codes allow simple single-user or Gunnebo SafeLock One Electronic Locking Keypadmulti-user access with single, dual or multiple control.
  • Audit Trails allow you to check the operational history of the lock to ascertain who gained access on specific dates and times, which can help to prevent internal fraud.
  • Time Delay will postpone the unlocking after you enter your correct PIN code, which is useful in deterring banditry hold-ups. Because the longer a criminal has to wait for your equipment to open, the greater the probability that he will flee fearing the arrival of the security force.
  • Wittkopp Combi-X Deadlock with Digital Keypad and Electronic Control System

  • Time Lock allows you to programme which days and time periods that the lock will be operational eg, Monday-Friday between 9am and 5pm. Attempts to input PIN codes outside these set times will not be recognised by the programming rendering the lock inoperable until the next programmed date and time occurs. This can deter burglars and any in-house collusion.
  • Dual User control means that two different PIN codes can be programmed into a single electronic lock requiring that both codes be entered consecutively in order for it to operate. This feature can help to reduce the chance of both internal fraud and hostage hold-up situations.
  • Gunnebo GSL-1000 Keypad for Electronic Locking

  • Silent Alarm Duress Code allows a special PIN code to be programmed into the lock (normally one digit different from your regular code) that will send a silent alarm to your security provider or monitoring station. In the event of a hostage hold-up situation where you are forced under duress to unlock your security equipment, you may enter the Duress Code that will operate the lock but at the same time send a signal to your security personnel to indicate that you are being coerced and in present danger.
  • TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is the network and internet protocols that enable you remotely to programme, download audits and control the operation of certain advanced high-security electronic locks. Wittkopp Combi-X Locking System and SoftwareThese types of locks are particularly useful to organisations with multiple sites and bullion centres handling large amounts of cash such as cash-in-transit operations and banking centres.
  • OTC (One-Time Code) enables you to program some locks with one-time codes that will operate the lock only once using the OTC PIN code. This feature is often used by cash-in-transit companies.


Chubb Cobra 3 Free-standing SafeChubb Cobra 1 Free-standing Safe in Cupboard Free-standing Safes stand on the floor and are the most popular type of safe along with cupboard safes. When installed they should be bolted down to the floor (or wall in the case of some cupboard safes) using heavy-duty rawl bolts that can be inserted through factory-fitted anchor holes that are provided within the body of the safe.

Cupboard Safes are typically a smaller type of free-standing safe that are usually installed out of sight in a cupboard or perhaps under a staircase where they are fixed to Chubb Elements Air Hotel Cupboard Safethe floor and/or wall. Smaller surface fixed safes such as those installed in hotel rooms are often described as wall safes, whereas they are really wall-mounted cupboard safes ie, the wall is not providing any additional security or protection.

Floor Safes are concreted into the ground and so are more secure than wall safes because they are unobtrusive and only the door is susceptible to attack. Underfloor safes are often supplied with a chute that allows cash to be inserted into capsules and dropped directly into the safe, which can be particularly useful to retail outlets such as convenience stores and petrol stations. However, they are not as convenient to use as a free-standing or wall safe, are more difficult to install and generally are only suitable for use in ground floor premises.

Churchill Ruby Under Floor Safe
Wall Safe in-situ Installation Wall Safes are similar to floor safes, but are installed into or against a wall. Their security is very dependent upon the quality of the wall into which they are fitted and the fixing method. When using a wall safe, it is important to ensure that the wall is thick, secure and not easily accessible from the outside.

Chubb Trident III-EX 170 Safe with Front-facing Deposit DrawerDEPOSIT FACILITIES EXPLAINED

In certain situations it may be a requirement that staff deposit valuables into a safe without having access to the contents eg, keys or cash. There are various methods of depositing into safes, from a simple slot, to a drawer or electronic system. Adding a deposit system can increase the vulnerability of a safe and an insurer may downgrade its cash rating. There are tested and certified deposit systems which meet the requirements of EN1143-2 and these will offer a high level of security against attack, fishing and manipulation.


Bishopsgate A name you can trust: Bishopsgate has been operating in Nigeria for over 50 years and has built a reputation for providing quality products, reliability and good customer service.

High quality products: we pride ourselves in offering the highest quality products and understand that our long-term reputation depends upon us doing so and work hard to ensure that our customers receive the best possible service.

1 year warranty: most products supplied by Bishopsgate carry a 1-year warranty.

Large product range: Bishopsgate can supply a wide range of security equipment including perimeter, entrance and physical security products most of which can be integrated for you with your access control systems.

Customisation: should you require a non-standard product or feature be it an over-size vault door or a different colour scheme, Bishopsgate will almost certainly be able to fulfil your needs.

Expert advice: we know our product range and the appropriate applications for the Nigerian market and are always on hand to answer your queries and to provide you with the best practical advice. If your query cannot be answered over the telephone, we have a team of trained engineers, installers and sales staff who can visit your site to discuss your issues in detail.

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