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Old October 22, 2011, 04:37 AM   #1
Adirondack
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Sturdy Safe's Ceramic/Glass Fiber Lining & UL Interview and Some Research

The debate for what the best fire lining material to use in a gun safe has gone on for some time now and I know I've been involved in several (mostly with a1abdj who's opinion I respect but don't necessarily agree with.)

Anyway, I hope you don't mind a1abdj but I didn't want to continue hijacking another thread so I started a new one to answer the question you've asked many times before (I probably should have done this research earlier.)

Quote:
a1abdj " ... I have already had the discussion of why ceramic insulation is not used as the primary insulation in any safe with a legitimate fire rating ... Don't believe the hype. The only companies using ceramic insulations as the primary insulators on their safes are a few gun safe manufacturers ...

... The proof is easy to see. Every UL rated fire safe, thousands of makes and models, use cast insulations to achieve their ratings. Not one of them, nobody has been able to point towards one, that uses ceramics as its primary insulator."
Well I finally did call UL and spoke with the gentlemen referenced earlier, I took his name and extension off my earlier post because I wasted 1/2 hour of his day helping settle this debate (for myself at least) and I'm sure he has better things to do. Anyway here's the highlights of the notes I took:

Me: Mr. K*** are you the person I could ask questions about fire ratings of safes with?
UL: Yes, I am the customer service engineer responsible for that department.
Me: Great, can you tell me any specifics about what companies use to achieve their fire rating?
UL: I can't give you specifics but I can provide general information.
Me: That's all I really need is some general info. Has UL passed any fire rated safes that use fiber insulation such as ceramic or glass fiber?
UL: Yes we have.
Me: That's fiber insulation only right? I mean it's not concrete plus fiber.
UL: Yes fiber only we've passed several as I recall (he said he's been out of the lab for 14 years now).
Me: Cool, can you tell me what the names were.
UL: You will have to contact the manufactures themselves and ask them. I'm sure most won't have a problem letting you know what they use.
Me: General question about concrete cast type insulation. How are manufactures able to achieve fire ratings with this type of insulation? I thought concrete was a fairly good conductor of heat.
UL: They achieve the rating by adding fillers.
Me: You mean like Perlite or Vermiculite?
UL: Yes, or various fibers or with additional liners.

Mr. K went on to instruct me how to use UL's search function for the database and gave me some key words to look for. Some other interesting things Mr. K mentioned, UL will not give a fire rating to any safe listed as a gun safe. UL has taken the position that UL fire rating might encourage owners to store ammunition and gun power in a safe that is not intended for that purpose (I.e., 350F might be good for not charring paper but not so much for keeping ammunition from going off.) Also, UL doesn't give a rating to vaults only to doors. He said what you will usually see manufactures do is say "tested to UL 72 testing standards etc."

I ended the conversation by asking:
Me: So if you had a choice to put your valuables in a fire safe that was ceramic lined or one that was made with a concrete cast insulation which would you choose?
UL: It depends on how it was made.

I thanked him for his time then went off doing some searching and some detective work.

So what are the attributes a manufacture would be looking for in order for them to want to use a fire liner like ceramic fiber I asked myself. Dry, lightweight less space wasted on insulation (from an earlier analysis that fiber is around 2.5 times more effective per insulating volume than a high concentration Perlite concrete mix.)

I searched the database for UL approved class 125F media safes which have to keep the temperature below 125F and humidity level below 80%. And I found two European companies that appeared to meet the above criteria: Gunnebo UK LTD (RYPH.R9735), ChubbSafes (RYPH.R15444).

Next I searched these companies product line looking for a media safe that met the above criteria and I found what appeared to be a match, it's a

ChubbSafe Dataplus.
http://www.gunnebo.com/SiteCollectio...s-4p-GB-lo.pdf

Key Features:
Generous capacity. Chubbsafes cabinets have been
designed to give you more for your money than most
other manufacturers’ cabinets.

• High-quality media protection.
• Two-hour data media protection label. Tested to
the highest international standards, UL 72 and EN
1047-1. EN Norm is certified by ECB•S in class S 120
DIS for fire resistance.
• Burglary protection in accordance with European
norm EN 14450 and certified by ECB•S in security
class S2.
• Easy to transport and install.
• Low weight ratio due to new advanced fire protection
barrier material.


So I picked up the phone and made an international call and spoke with a sales engineer (Heather ?) at Gunnebo.
I asked her what they used for fire lining in their media safes.
She said "It's an advanced fiber glass like material."
I said "You mean like Ceramic Fiber?"
She said"Precisely"
I said "Is there any other cast type material needed to achieve the fire rating?"
She said"No, if we used concrete cast insulation we would not be able to offer the low relative weight or achieve the media protection rating. We do offer other safes with cast insulation to meet some customers needs."

Well I checked the price on these data safes and we are talking 3 to 4 times the price of what Sturdy offers their safes for so Terry and Alyssa are really giving everyone a great deal when looking at similar offerings on rated containers.

Anyway, please don't take this response as an attack a1abdj. You've asked the question many times before but I never took the time to do a search till now but you asked for at least one example of a fiber lined safe with an actual fire rating and the above attached meets your request.
__________________
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Last edited by Adirondack; October 23, 2011 at 04:39 PM.
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Old October 22, 2011, 10:44 AM   #2
a1abdj
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Location: St. Charles, MO
Posts: 494
First and foremost, congratulations on finding one (or two) cabinets that appear to use ceramic. I've never seen one. Chubb is a foreign manufacturer that deals mostly in Europe. They do have product here in the US, but it is not common by any stretch.

I'll have to take your brochure's claim that they have a current UL rating, as that particular model didn't pop up on UL's verification search. That's not always a negative thing, as some manufacturers don't carry ratings every year.

I'm still going to stick by my claim even though you have found one foreign cabinet that appears to use a similar or even possibly the same insulation that Sturdy uses. It's one out of thousands. If it was as good as the others, many other companies would be using it. The fact that it offers no security barrier is why Chubb would be advertising it as a data cabinet and not a safe. If you look at some of their other products, they are using cast insulations.

You'll have to excuse me as I'm going to skip around a bit here:

Quote:
Well I finally did call UL and spoke with the gentlemen referenced earlier, I took his name and extension off my earlier post because I wasted 1/2 hour of his day helping settle this debate (for myself at least) and I'm sure he has better things to do. Anyway here's the highlights of the notes I took:

Me: Mr. K*** are you the person I could ask questions about fire ratings of safes with?
UL: Yes, I am the customer service engineer responsible for that department.
Me: Great, can you tell me any specifics about what companies use to achieve their fire rating?
UL: I can't give you specifics but I can provide general information.
Me: That's all I really need is some general info. Has UL passed any fire rated safes that use fiber insulation such as ceramic or glass fiber?
UL: Yes we have.
Me: That's fiber insulation only right? I mean it's not concrete plus fiber.
UL: Yes fiber only we've passed several as I recall (he said he's been out of the lab for 14 years now).
Me: Cool, can you tell me what the names were.
UL: You will have to contact the manufactures themselves and ask them. I'm sure most won't have a problem letting you know what they use.
Me: General question about concrete cast type insulation. How are manufactures about to achieve fire ratings with this type of insulation? I thought concrete was a fairly good conductor of heat.
UL: They achieve the rating by adding fillers.
Me: You mean like Perlite or Vermiculite?
UL: Yes, or various fibers or with additional liners.
I don't know exactly what debate you're trying to settle. If it's the "cast are better than ceramics" debate, I'm still on the winning side with thousands of cast filled safes to your 1 "ceramic like" cabinet.

Quote:
Mr. K mentioned, UL will not give a fire rating to any safe listed as a gun safe. UL has taken the position that UL fire rating might encourage owners to store ammunition and gun power in a safe that is not intended for that purpose (I.e., 350F might be good for not charring paper but not so much for keeping ammunition from going off.)
Although I have always stated you should not store those items in a gun safe, I have to disagree with what you say he said. UL did certify at least one gun safe with a 1 hour fire label. It is no longer in production, but it did exist. It was a safe using a cast insulation, sold by Prosteel.

I don't work for UL, so I don't know how they do it, but I don't know why you would "classify" a safe as any particular type of safe for testing purposes. You build a safe, you submit the safe, they test the safe. I am doubting they are asking you how you are going to market the safe, and I doubt they really care.

If this was the case, they would have a huge problem with Sentry (John Brush) who is one of the largest fire rated safe manufacturers in the world (and uses cast insulations). For eons, they advertised in coin magazines, implying that their document safes were suitable for storing valuables. There were even a few lawsuits involved.

Quote:
I ended the conversation by asking:
Me: So if you had a choice to put your valuables in a fire safe that was ceramic lined or one that was made with a concrete cast insulation which would you choose?
UL: It depends on how it was made.
It's amazing how much some people can talk without really saying a thing.

Quote:
So what are the attributes a manufacture would be looking for in order for them to want to use a fire liner like ceramic fiber I asked myself. Dry, lightweight less space wasted on insulation (from an earlier analysis that fiber is around 2.5 times more effective per insulating volume than a high concentration Perlite concrete mix.)
Weight would be the only issue. If you ran the numbers on the example you gave, you'll see that you're looking at 5" walls in those cabinets. 5" to 6" total wall thickness is pretty standard on data safes, even with those using cast exterior walls.

Quote:
So I picked up the phone and made an international call and spoke with a sales engineer (Heather ?) at Gunnebo.
I asked her what they used for fire lining in their media safes.
She said "It's an advanced fiber glass like material."
I said "You mean like Ceramic Fiber?"
She said"Precisely"
I said "Is there any other cast type material needed to achieve the fire rating?"
She said"No, if we used concrete cast insulation we would not be able to offer the low relative weight or achieve the media protection rating. We do offer other safes with cast insulation to meet some customers needs."
"fiberglass like" and "like ceramic fiber".

I don't think that says much at all, and certainly doesn't say that Sturdy is using the same materials they are. Sturdy uses wool, they could be using hard board or other cast ceramic product (there we go with those cast materials again).

It's similar to when I say "concrete" when I'm talking about cast fills. It's like the concrete in your driveway, but it's really nothing like it at all.

Quote:
Well I checked the price on these data safes and we are talking 3 to 4 times the price of what Sturdy offers their safes for so Terry and Alyssa are really giving everyone a great deal when looking at similar offerings on rated containers.
Yes, Sturdy's safes are just about identical to the UL rated data cabinets. An excellent deal. Of course the Sturdy's are missing several inches of insulation that is "like" the insulation they are using in their cabinet.

Quote:
Anyway, please don't take this response as an attack a1abdj. You've asked the question many times before but I never took the time to do a search till now but you asked for at least one example of a fiber lined safe with an actual fire rating and the above attached meets your request.
I don't take it as an attack at all. I'm actually aware of one other data cabinet made right here in the US that uses ceramics as well. I wasn't really counting it since it was a light weight cabinet and not a safe.

Regardless, feel free to continue to support Sturdy using your one example. I'll continue to support the others using my examples numbering in the thousands.

With all of this said, you act as if I'm against Sturdy. I'm really not, and in fact, just sent them a customer the other day. As a professional in my line of work, it is my job to listen to the needs of a customer and point them in the right direction. Each person's circumstances are different, and so my safe recommendation may be different. It may shock you, but it's not uncommon for me to send somebody who calls me towards a product that I do not sell. There aren't many others that can say that, and I don't know of one manufacturer that would.

I'm editing to add this comment regarding light weight fire resistant cabinets. It's not a new idea. These things were being built back before the owner of Sturdy was born, using the new modern ultra light weight very effective materials of the day. Today they are hard to get rid of because of the asbestos used in the insulations.

It wasn't much different now than it was then. Back then everybody else was using cast insulations, and a few guys were using asbestos insulations "like" the ceramic wool being used today. It's pretty amazing that no matter what new whiz bang material comes to the market, that old cast insulation outlives it all.
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Last edited by a1abdj; October 22, 2011 at 12:42 PM.
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Old October 23, 2011, 07:56 AM   #3
Adirondack
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Join Date: May 28, 2009
Posts: 105
Quote:
First and foremost, congratulations on finding one (or two) cabinets that appear to use ceramic. I've never seen one. Chubb is a foreign manufacturer that deals mostly in Europe. They do have product here in the US, but it is not common by any stretch.
Well thank you. And there are many more but you just ask for one so that's all I posted, here's another:

http://www.gunnebo.com/SiteCollectio...T-2p-GB-lo.pdf

Actually, the engineer I spoke with at UL says their certification will apply to the same model safe upto +/- 50% of the tested capacity. So if a manufacture was wise, he could test a safe right in the middle of their product line the go up or down in capacity 50% to save money on testing and certifications.

Quote:
Although I have always stated you should not store those items in a gun safe, I have to disagree with what you say he said. UL did certify at least one gun safe with a 1 hour fire label. It is no longer in production, but it did exist. It was a safe using a cast insulation, sold by Prosteel.

I don't work for UL, so I don't know how they do it, but I don't know why you would "classify" a safe as any particular type of safe for testing purposes. You build a safe, you submit the safe, they test the safe. I am doubting they are asking you how you are going to market the safe, and I doubt they really care.
Hey, I'm just telling you what the man said. UL would certify safes listed as gun safes in the past but they will not now. Maybe it was a lawsuit charged against them I don't know but UL will not allow you to put their fire rating sticker on a new safe that is being marketed as a gun safe.

Quote:
The fact that it offers no security barrier is why Chubb would be advertising it as a data cabinet and not a safe.
It shows a security rating EN 14450 which is "security cabinet / container" rating.

Quote:
I'm still going to stick by my claim even though you have found one foreign cabinet that appears to use a similar or even possibly the same insulation that Sturdy uses. It's one out of thousands. If it was as good as the others, many other companies would be using it. The fact that it offers no security barrier is why Chubb would be advertising it as a data cabinet and not a safe. If you look at some of their other products, they are using cast insulations.
Which just shows how innovative Sturdy Safe has been in their design. It also goes to show what's happened in the US with big business, too worried about profits and not about being innovative. Nice to know the small business person is still finding better ways of doing things but that's another subject all together.

Quote:
Yes, Sturdy's safes are just about identical to the UL rated data cabinets. An excellent deal. Of course the Sturdy's are missing several inches of insulation that is "like" the insulation they are using in their cabinet.
I have to cut the response short because I have to leave in a moment. The insulation is "ceramic fiber" she was quite clear. Their media safes also passes UL class 125F 1 and 2 hour tests depending on the model. If you do some subtraction, you'll see there is a wall thickness of around 100mm and since there are 25.4mm/inch the walls are just less than 4 inches. Subtract out an additional 1/2" for exterior and interior liners and you are looking at around 3.5" of insulation on the walls. Remember though that this is a 125F- 2 hour media safe and without looking at the UL 72 standard would get the exterior probably around 1800F or so then have a long slow cool time time exceeding 2 days (where concrete cast safes tend to fail). Sturdy offers 2 inches of insulation on the walls 3 inches on the ceiling, floor and door of the safe. They offer a double insulation that is 4" if requested. Anyway, I wouldn't expect media to survive a 2 hour fire in a standard Sturdy fire lined safe but firearms, paper etc probably won't have any problems and real world results support that.

Incidentally, to show how smart the folks at Sturdy are. High temperature fiber glass actually is a better thermal insulator than ceramic fiber and cost less. The problem is it can't handle the extreme heat like ceramic fiber can. So Sturdy not only saves the customer money by putting an outer layer of ceramic fiber and inner layer of high temperature glass fiber but they also make their design more effective. If Chubb safes are all ceramic fiber, they won't insulate as well as Sturdy's design on a depth of insulation thickness basis.
__________________
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John F. Kennedy, Describing a dinner for Nobel Prize winners, 1962

Last edited by Adirondack; October 23, 2011 at 09:15 AM.
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