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Old January 6, 2011, 10:00 PM   #26
Adirondack
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Let's look at that big room you just posted a photo of, and lets compare the exposed surface area to the volume of air inside of it. Then, let's look at the surface area of a safe, and compare that to the volume of air inside of it.
Okay, let's look at it but to get a true ratio of insulation needed for volume protected, we should be looking at the volume of insulation per volume of material protected.

Here is a media safe with the highest rating I could find class 125F - 3 hour.
http://www.fireking.com/adesco_safes_data_3hour.html



It's external dimensions are 59 3/4" x 32 1/16 x 31 " and internal dimensions are 43 5/8" x 18 5/8" x 16 1/16". So the amount of insulation is the difference between the total volume of the safe verses the volume of protected material. So external volume = 59.75" x 32.0625" x 31" = 59,387 Cu Inches and internal volume 43.625" x 18.625" x 16.0625" = 13,051 Cu Inches. That makes the amount of insulation = external volume - internal volume = 59,387 - 13,051 = 46336 cu inches of insulation protecting 13,051 Cu Inches of material for a ratio of 13,051/46,336 = 0.2817 which says you need about 4 times of volume of insulation as compared to volume of protected material.

So looking at the media vault that uses exclusively ceramic fiber. I couldn't find dimensions for a 3 hour rated vault so I had to use the higher rated vault with a 4 hour rating. Here's a quote from Firelock

http://www.firelock.com/mediasecurity3.htm

"FIRELOCK is also unique in that our vaults provide a Class 125 Fire Rating for a minimum of two hours, but as vaults increase in size, the vault rating increases in duration. Our 28' x 28' x 8' vault will deliver a Class 125 Four-Hour Rating. This is four times the protection that a typically constructed data safe can provide."

So from the photo shown earlier, it appears that the vault walls are around 6" deep; that would make the exterior dimensions 29' x 29' x 9'. So the volume of the entire structure - the interior volume is (29' x 29' x 9') - (28' x 28' x 8') = 1297 Cu Feet of insulation material. So interior protected volume divided by insulation volume = (28' x 28' x 8') / 1297 Cu Feet = 4.836

This says that per cubic volume of ceramic fiber almost 5 times that volume can be protected. That would mean it is 4.826/0.2817 = 17.13 times better than the media safe with the cast insulation and inner liner of something else.
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Old January 6, 2011, 10:44 PM   #27
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As always, you try to make things much more difficult than they really are. I don't know if this is intended to confuse people or not.

Let's start with the surface area exposed to heat, and the volume of air inside of the unit. I will use your two specific examples. I'm not going to post all of the math (feel free to double check my figures), just the important parts. I'm also going to round off the numbers a bit to make it easier to see.

The safe you mentioned has an outside surface area (not counting the floor, because we're not going to count the floor of the vault either) of 59.5 square feet. This surface is the amount of surface exposed to heat. The interior has a volume of 7.6 cubic feet. This means each square foot of surface exposed to heat is keeping .13 cubic feet of space cool.

The vault you mention has a surface area of 1,885 square feet exposed to heat. The interior volume (28x28x8) is 6,272 cubic feet. This means each square foot of surface exposed to heat is keeping 3.3 cubic feet of space cool.

I'm going to stop you now before you say "look, the vault has to keep much more space cool", because that's the opposite of the truth. A smaller air space will heat up much faster than larger air space when exposed to the same level of heat. A .13 cubic foot space will heat much faster than a 3.3 cubic foot space.

The vault has 25 times the air inside of it in a direct comparison of surface area. This means the safe has to do 25 times the work the vault does.

To put this into real simple terms. Try turning your oven on to 400 degrees, opening the door, and seeing how long it takes to heat your kitchen to 400 degrees. Then to compare, with your oven at room temperature, burn your house down, and see how long it takes the interior of the oven to reach 400 degrees.
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Old January 7, 2011, 06:42 AM   #28
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The safe you mentioned has an outside surface area (not counting the floor, because we're not going to count the floor of the vault either) of 59.5 square feet. This surface is the amount of surface exposed to heat. The interior has a volume of 7.6 cubic feet. This means each square foot of surface exposed to heat is keeping .13 cubic feet of space cool.
As per the testing standard, heat is applied to all sides including the floor for both the vault and safe.

I know the example is an apples to oranges comparison but you asked to see it.

Steam especially a high pressure superheated steam that's likely to be in a gun safe protected by gypsum or even concrete can damage the contents as well so it should be a consideration when selecting a gun safe or any safe/vault for that matter.
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Old January 7, 2011, 10:27 AM   #29
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As per the testing standard, heat is applied to all sides including the floor for both the vault and safe.
Ok. Including the floor of each unit, each square foot of surface area exposed to heat on the safe is protecting .11 cubic feet of air space inside. Each square foot of surface area exposed to heat on the vault is protecting 2.3 cubic feet of air space inside.

Instead of the safe having to perform 25 times better in the previous example, it only has to perform 20 times better if heat is applied to all 6 sides instead of 5.

Quote:
I know the example is an apples to oranges comparison but you asked to see it.
It's not apples and oranges at all. I'm assuming that the ceramic insulation in the safe will perform the same as the ceramic insulation in a vault wall. Inch for inch, the ceramics are doing the exact same job.

In your examples, the safe has about 3.5" of cast fill on each wall, in addition to 3.5" of ceramic insulation. The vault has 6" of insulation. This means that the 3.5" of fill in the safe is now doing the job of 2.5" of ceramic in the vault.

We know that by your very own example, that the safe is doing 20 times the work, and the ceramics are doing the same job, therefore I can make a wild guess that it's the cast insulation doing the heavy lifting (as I have always said).

3.5" of cast insulation (in this case) is 20 times as effective as 2.5" of ceramic. If my math is correct, it would take 14" of ceramic insulation to accomplish the same task as 1" of cast insulation.

Of course all of these numbers aren't based on much fact, just your examples. The do however prove what I have been saying all along. Cast insulations are more effective than ceramic insulations which is why every UL listed safe uses them, and very few manufacturers use it at all, except as a secondary insulation.

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Steam especially a high pressure superheated steam that's likely to be in a gun safe protected by gypsum or even concrete can damage the contents as well so it should be a consideration when selecting a gun safe or any safe/vault for that matter.
Gypsum will let off moisture in fire. Many of the cast insulations in document safes will let off moisture. As you get into fire/burglary safes, and UL listed burglary safes, the insulation is actually a burglary barrier as well, and tends to have a much lower moisture content.

You can also get external moisture into a safe during a fire. The insulation isn't your only enemy when you have fire hoses involved.
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Old January 7, 2011, 06:47 PM   #30
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I guess I'm not following your logic a1abdj. The volume of both containers is published so you can figure out how much is liner, shell and insulation of each and how efficient they are at protecting the volume within each container. To me it appears that the vault with the ceramic fiber is 17 times better than the safe based on how much material is needed to protect each volume. I couldn't find any specifications on the materials used on that fire safe so if you say it's ceramic fiber in the inner liner and it's 3.5" thick I guess I'm going to have to trust you on that but at least from the photo it doesn't appear to be much more than 2" thick at best.

Of course all of this is a moot point since the specifications of ceramic fiber, high temperature glass and other insulation materials including insulating concrete type materials are published so it's easy to figure out what insulation is better for preventing heat transfer.
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Old January 7, 2011, 08:19 PM   #31
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I guess I'm not following your logic a1abdj. The volume of both containers is published so you can figure out how much is liner, shell and insulation of each and how efficient they are at protecting the volume within each container.
It's not my logic, it's the real world of safe construction.

In both situations, we are looking at the same heat source. 1 square foot of surface area. The safe has a small volume of air inside, the vault has a large volume of air inside.

Let's say you take 2 identical candles. Place one inside of a shoe box, and the other inside of a refrigerator box. Which box will heat faster?

A small space will heat much, much faster than a large space. The insulation on a large container has to work less than the insulation on a small container (even though most safes are build the same regardless of their size).

The vault is not better because it protects more volume. The safe is better because it offers the same protection to much, much less.
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Old January 8, 2011, 12:24 AM   #32
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I'm going to chime in on this discussion, not because I feel I'm and expert in any way, but because I find it very interesting. I value both point of views and your expertise.

Just because safe manufacturers stick with a certain type of insulation does not automatically preclude its better or best. Just doing something for many years also does not mean its the best way. This applies to all facets of life.

If you assume fiber insulation is better, why would companies not make the switch? I can think of many, but heres a few.
#1. Old habits die hard. Maybe an overused expression but true.
#2. They are already set up and tooled to do it this way and change costs money.
#3. The marketplace is not screaming for change. Heck the average Joe doesn't even take that much notice of fire ratings.
#4. Why change and admit someone else was doing it better all along.

I'm sure their are more reasons and I bring these up because I see resistance to change all the time in my occupation--agriculture. People plowed for years until finally no-till took over. Combines used conventional threshing systems for years until a few changed to rotary combines and now its very hard to find a combine with a cylinder. I could go on and on. I think we all could in relation to our own areas of expertise.
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Old January 8, 2011, 01:07 AM   #33
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Just because safe manufacturers stick with a certain type of insulation does not automatically preclude its better or best. Just doing something for many years also does not mean its the best way. This applies to all facets of life.
There may be better materials out there, they just haven't been thought of yet.

Your other questions have different answers, depending on whether you're talking about real safes with UL ratings, or gun safes that are unrated.

Quote:
If you assume fiber insulation is better, why would companies not make the switch?
A few gun safe companies have. Ceramic fiber does provide some protection, and since the safe isn't being UL rated, it doesn't matter.

Real safe companies haven't, because a ceramic insulated safe will not pass the test in the form of a marketable safe.

Quote:
#1. Old habits die hard. Maybe an overused expression but true.
Real safe manufacturers have been using cast insulations for over 150 years. These habits are definately old.

Gun safes have been around since the 1980s, and originally, were not insulated against fire at all. Many of the manufacturers act as if they are doing things that have never been done, when in fact, they have all been done many times before by real safe manufacturers.

Quote:
#2. They are already set up and tooled to do it this way and change costs money.
Cast insulations cost the manufacturer more. The process is more complex, requires more equipment, and is much more time consuming.

Ceramic insulations may cost more for the actual material, but the process is very easy, requires little or no equipment, and is very fast.

Quote:
#3. The marketplace is not screaming for change. Heck the average Joe doesn't even take that much notice of fire ratings.
I think the average Joe notices the ratings, but does not understand what they mean.

As far as gun safes go, this is a bad thing. Many people are relying on their gun safes to provide protection that they simply can't offer.

Real safes are a different story. Not only are consumers interested in the fire ratings, but if the safe carries any sort of commercial insurance, the insurer will definately be interested.

Quote:
#4. Why change and admit someone else was doing it better all along.
The safe industry is an interesting creature. Some design aspects are old, and yet they are so good nothing better has ever come along. Cast insulations, and combination lock design are two great examples.

On the flip side, changes are constantly being made to security features, especially burglary barriers. They have to. As new and better tools are designed, and burglars gain knowledge, new features must be used to maintain security levels.
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Old January 8, 2011, 02:06 AM   #34
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Thanks alabdj for your reply. You certainly have convincing arguements. I perhaps worded some of my response poorly. I think most people do give up on the fire rating debate and simply decide on price, ease of installation or availability. I have to say I have been put off by the quality of all the safes I have seen first hand. I won't mention names but they represent the top manufacturers of gun safes. Have not been able to put my hands on a amsec or sturdy but the specs seem to support that they are better made. Safes I have looked at sure are purtiy but when really looking close you can tell they are cheaply and poorly made. I just will not settle for this.

Wouldn't it be great if some independent entity put a few gun safes in the same environment and compared their heat resistance and burgular proof abilities. Would it really be so hard to provide a subjective test?
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Old January 8, 2011, 02:16 AM   #35
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Old January 8, 2011, 04:39 AM   #36
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Let's say you take 2 identical candles. Place one inside of a shoe box, and the other inside of a refrigerator box. Which box will heat faster?

A small space will heat much, much faster than a large space. The insulation on a large container has to work less than the insulation on a small container (even though most safes are build the same regardless of their size).
Heat is evenly distributed to all sides of both containers during testing so the vault has much more energy to resist in order to pass the test than the smaller safe.

I do admit that the natural air convection in the much larger vault does help delay the temperature rise within the chamber but I did say it is an apples to oranges comparison. The interior of the vault can hold everything used in its construction 4 times over but the safe can't even hold a quarter of it's own constructing material so for efficient fire protection of a large collection, the ceramic fiber lined vault is far better than the safe.

Quote:
If you assume fiber insulation is better, why would companies not make the switch? I can think of many, but heres a few.
#1. Old habits die hard. Maybe an overused expression but true.
#2. They are already set up and tooled to do it this way and change costs money.
#3. The marketplace is not screaming for change. Heck the average Joe doesn't even take that much notice of fire ratings.
#4. Why change and admit someone else was doing it better all along.
I think those are some of the reasons north1. It's also expensive as compared to drywall or concrete. The cost of the insulation alone for what Sturdy puts on it's gun safe is almost 200 dollars. Add to that the 14ga liner that needs to be fabricated and then the labor required for installation all of which doesn't leave you much room to make any money on the option. Compare that to fire rated 5/8" drywall that can be bought at retail for less than 9 dollars a sheet or concrete that is about $100 per yard right now (no where near that needed in an average safe).

Even Amsec admitted when asked by someone who called from an earlier discussion that they don't use the same insulating material on their fire safes as they do for their other safes. Their fire safes use a vermiculite concrete mix whereas their other security or burglary and fire safes use a denser mix which is great for security but bad for preventing heat transfer. So to your point about the average Joe not taking much notice to the fire rating, I think these safe companies likely recognize that and are building their products with that in mind.
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Old January 8, 2011, 10:42 AM   #37
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I do admit that the natural air convection in the much larger vault does help delay the temperature rise within the chamber but I did say it is an apples to oranges comparison. The interior of the vault can hold everything used in its construction 4 times over but the safe can't even hold a quarter of it's own constructing material so for efficient fire protection of a large collection, the ceramic fiber lined vault is far better than the safe.
You almost half way admitted it there in your answer.

The vault is better than the safe. It's better than the safe because it uses one of the best insulations available. Air. Smaller safes have to use better man made insulations, because they do not have the air volume inside.

Using the same ceramic insulation, exclusively, in a smaller safe would yield faster and higher temperature rises than the exact same test performed on the large vault. This is exactly the same when other insulations are used, and is why many of those insulations are moisture bearing. Behind air, steam is also a great natural insulator.

In a nutshell, this is why the ceramics will not pass the UL test, and is why many other dry insulations will not pass it either.

Quote:
It's also expensive as compared to drywall or concrete. The cost of the insulation alone for what Sturdy puts on it's gun safe is almost 200 dollars. Add to that the 14ga liner that needs to be fabricated and then the labor required for installation all of which doesn't leave you much room to make any money on the option. Compare that to fire rated 5/8" drywall that can be bought at retail for less than 9 dollars a sheet or concrete that is about $100 per yard right now (no where near that needed in an average safe).
So the ceramics cost $200, but what tooling does it take, and how much labor is required to install it?

The cements are goin to vary in price depending on how complex they are, but you are right in that they are not expensive (when talking about the fire rated versions).

But lets look at their construction. Sturdy builds a safe, puts in ceramic, and rivets in a liner. In a safe using cement, the body must be built in a hollow form. This form must prevent the wet cement from leaking out. This is a bit more complex than the Sturdy.

The cement must be mixed (cement plant on site), moved from the plant to the safe (pumps), placed into the safe properly (vibrating tables), then cured (large ovens). All of this equipment is expensive, requires maintenance, uses expensive power, requires labor to use each piece, and takes time.

Quote:
Even Amsec admitted when asked by someone who called from an earlier discussion that they don't use the same insulating material on their fire safes as they do for their other safes. Their fire safes use a vermiculite concrete mix whereas their other security or burglary and fire safes use a denser mix which is great for security but bad for preventing heat transfer.
Every type of safe is going to have a different mixture, and each manufacture's mixture will be different than the others when looking at the same type of safe. Different jobs equal different tools.

Dense insulating materials aren't always bad for preventing heat transfer. Even heavy plate steel safes, with no insulation at all, have survived fires.
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Old January 8, 2011, 12:29 PM   #38
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You almost half way admitted it there in your answer.

The vault is better than the safe. It's better than the safe because it uses one of the best insulations available. Air. Smaller safes have to use better man made insulations, because they do not have the air volume inside.

Using the same ceramic insulation, exclusively, in a smaller safe would yield faster and higher temperature rises than the exact same test performed on the large vault. This is exactly the same when other insulations are used, and is why many of those insulations are moisture bearing. Behind air, steam is also a great natural insulator.

In a nutshell, this is why the ceramics will not pass the UL test, and is why many other dry insulations will not pass it either.
Well I sort of agree with you. For the three modes of heat transfer: conduction, convection and radiation, air doesn't conduct heat well so it's good at reducing that (a vacuum doesn't conduct any heat) it does not however prevent radiant heat transfer and is also an active component for moving heat in convection.

Ceramic fiber is mostly air which is good for preventing conductive heat transfer. The fiber also blocks radiant heat transfer and prevents air from moving within the insulation layer to reduce convection heating.

I don't believe you are entirely accurate with your statement that safes don't use air in their fire safe insulation. Both expanded Vermiculite and Perlite which are the aggregates most often used in concrete to give them good insulation properties are mostly air. Also, these manufacturers (safe and builders) will use an aeration process to introduce air into their concrete mixes to reduce density and improve the insulation properties.

The moisture bearing insulation is used because of the phase change that has to occur with water to change to steam. When water changes to steam at atmospheric pressure, the temperature of the water will stay at 212F until the water if fully changed to steam. Do the experiment yourself, put a pot of water on the stove with a thermometer in the water and watch what happens to the temperature when it starts to boil, it won't rise above 212F until the water is gone. Gun safe manufacturers use gypsum drywall because it is 21% water and will go through a similar process when exposed to high heat the problem is the pressure will rise in a sealed gun safe making it less effective.
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Old January 8, 2011, 01:08 PM   #39
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I don't believe you are entirely accurate with your statement that safes don't use air in their fire safe insulation.
Most fire rated insulations do have air, encapsulated moisture, or both in their insulations. Sometimes, just looking at it will make it obvious. The insulation used in the AMSEC BF safes has air in it. The insulation slightly resembles lava rock.

Quote:
Gun safe manufacturers use gypsum drywall because it is 21% water and will go through a similar process when exposed to high heat the problem is the pressure will rise in a sealed gun safe making it less effective.
They use it because it's cheap and easy, in addition to everything else you mentioned.

Gyspum based insulations are used (in their cast form) on some UL rated products. The problem with gypsum board is that it is not as consistent as cast. There are gaps, cuts, etc. that reduce its effectiveness.

I am sure you could get a gypsum board lined safe to pass UL testing. I am also sure you could get a ceramic lined safe to pass. The walls would simply have to be much thicker. Since the interior volume of the safe is at a premium, it simply doesn't make sense to build a safe with 10" walls when they can use the same materials they have been using for over a century to build walls half as thick.
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Old January 8, 2011, 02:30 PM   #40
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Old January 9, 2011, 12:09 AM   #41
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I am also sure you could get a ceramic lined safe to pass. The walls would simply have to be much thicker.
We have discussed this many times before and I've even done a analysis as you recall, even with an optimized cement/concrete insulation mix it's not even close as I think most people would expect: the fiber is at least 2 times better but likely many times more than that but since the fiber insulation is designed specifically to be a insulator, it should be no surprise. Of course, the above example with attached photos is the best evidence of how just 2 inches of compressed fiber can keep the interior less than 350F in a complete burn down of a residence. So I guess we will just have to agree to disagree a1abdj.

ZerO, sorry to have taken your thread off on a tangent. There are a few good choices in the price range as mentioned. I happen to think Sturdy is the best but that's based on what I find important in a gun safe which might be different than other people. If weight isn't an issue and you think you might want a little more security than these provide, there are some reasonable priced TL rated safes such as AMSEC AMVAULT composite safe but the shipping and placement might prove to be a bit pricey and of course you'll have to deal with a 3000LBS safe if you ever need to move it.
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Old January 9, 2011, 12:49 AM   #42
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I've even done a analysis as you recall, even with an optimized cement/concrete insulation mix it's not even close as I think most people would expect:
I recall you doing an analysis, but I don't recall you making it against anything factual. You were comparing ceramic insulations with known data, against a cast insulation that you knew nothing about.

Quote:
the fiber is at least 2 times better but likely many times more than that but since the fiber insulation is designed specifically to be a insulator,
The cast insulations are also designed specifically to be a insulator. Of course I'm having trouble seeing how it is two times better, when I already showed you above, using your own examples, how much more effective the cast insulations were.

Quote:
Of course, the above example with attached photos is the best evidence of how just 2 inches of compressed fiber can keep the interior less than 350F in a complete burn down of a residence. So I guess we will just have to agree to disagree a1abdj.
Here's a photo to compare to your photo. It is of a small UL rated safe, using less than 2 inches of cast insulation. It was also in a worse fire. This safe was located on the second floor of a two story house that burned itself into the basement. The safe was exposed to the full fire, as well as the time it took the debris to cool off enough for the safe to be retrieved.

Although the contents of both safes "survived", look closely at the contents of each. The Sturdy gun safe has some fire damaged contents. That little UL rated Sentry (which could have been bought at Walmart for $150), even has thin plastic baggies that survived, and very little damage to the contents.





You can disagree all that you want, but again, the proof is right there in front of you. Cast insulations do a better job of protecting contents against fire. It's not just my opinion. It's the opinion of UL, the major safe manufacturers, and although I can't speak for everybody, most of us in the business.
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Old January 9, 2011, 03:32 PM   #43
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what can be added to space around a safe to increase fire protection

a1abdj

I have an inch or two on all sides of my Liberty safe in the garage. What would you recommend as an extra little of fire protection to just set aside the safe. I selected the Liberty for gun protection, but mostly for paper and valuables from fire, which I feel is the more likely thing to hit. I did not have enough money to get a real "theft" safe with real fire protection. Just thinking that some extra something along side might actually extend the fire protection.
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Old January 9, 2011, 07:26 PM   #44
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Quote:
I have an inch or two on all sides of my Liberty safe in the garage. What would you recommend as an extra little of fire protection to just set aside the safe. I selected the Liberty for gun protection, but mostly for paper and valuables from fire, which I feel is the more likely thing to hit. I did not have enough money to get a real "theft" safe with real fire protection. Just thinking that some extra something along side might actually extend the fire protection.
You may get a bit of extra protection, but the door will still be vulnerable. Just because certain materials won't get a safe to meet UL standards doesn't mean that they don't work at all. I would get some 5/8" gypsum X (fire treated, available at any place that sells drywall). It is inexpensive, easy to cut and place, and will give you some protection. If you have room for an air gap between the gyspum and the safe, that would be even better.

If you park your car in the garage, you could expect higher temperatures than you would within a house. Safes in garages also tend to have more combustible items placed next to them.
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Old January 10, 2011, 04:19 AM   #45
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Well since it still is being discussed and is generally the theme of the thread, I'll respond a1abdj.

Of those two photos, the one that appears to have damaged content is the Sentry safe. It looks to me like that plastic bag melted and also some charring on that folded envelope where it made contact with the side wall.



In the Sturdy safe photo, it might appear that the files to the far left are darker but that's just because they are in a shadow. You can see there are plastic pistol cases that touch the side of the safe where the insulation is thinnest. Here is a picture of that plastic pistol case and pistol:





http://www.sturdysafe.com/fireliner.htm

Yes that Sentry fire safe is made of a cast (concrete) mix which does allow it to evaporate water much like the drywall so it will do okay as long as there is still water to evaporate, once the water is gone or the pressure is too high for the water to boil; the heat will rise rapidly. Also, those Sentry safe can only pass a 1/2 hour test to 1550 Degrees F which as you likely know is due to the long cool down period with concrete type insulation.

Quote:
I recall you doing an analysis, but I don't recall you making it against anything factual. You were comparing ceramic insulations with known data, against a cast insulation that you knew nothing about.
Well that's not exactly true. I do know from AMSEC that Drylight is a concrete mix. So knowing that, I chose an aggregate with the highest thermal resistance I could find, Perlite, (it was later revealed that AMSEC uses Vermiculite as an aggregate in their fire lined safes which isn't as good as Perlite). Even with a 8 to 1 ratio of Perlite or Vermiculite to Portland Cement ratio; the concrete mix still conducts heat at least twice as fast.

But here it is again which is a comparison for what Sturdy does for fire protection to what is in an AMSEC BF as a best case scenario as I see it and you are welcomed to have AMSEC show why I am wrong a1abdj.

Quote:
Here’s why I think the Sturdy gun safe has the AMSEC BF beat though in the area of fire protection and since I can’t run an actual test and show the results I’m forced to give a mathematical model. Sorry this is long but I’m sure someone is going to want to know where the numbers are coming from.

Assume we have both of these gun safes in a house fire which is 1275F and continues for 90 minutes until the fire department puts the fire out (According to AMSEC’s website the BF series is rated for Mercury Class III fire protection of 1275°F for 90 minutes and designed to maintain an interior temperature of less than 350°F so we will use those numbers as the standard since the BF is UL listed [this gun safe is not tested by UL as I later found out].) For this example both safes will have the same dimensions: 2 meters tall, 1 meter wide and 1 meter deep (using SI units are easier to follow the numbers.)

We know from thermodynamics that the primary mode of heat transfer from the house fire to the interior of the gun safes will be by way of conduction. Fourier Law of Conduction (steady state) tells us that heat will flow from the high temperature region to the low temperature based on the following equation: Q=-kA (T2-T1)/L where q is the heat flow rate, k is the thermal conductivity coefficient of the material in question, A is the cross section area of the heat flow region, L in the depth of the material and T2-T1 is the delta difference in temperature between boundaries (exterior to interior).
The Sturdy safe’s materials are well defined on their website so it’s easy to build a model for their design and since we are just comparing the two safes on a one to one basis, we can find the heat transfer of sections and add them up for the total heat flow rate to the safe’s interior.

The standard Sturdy Safe with fire lining has four layers as seen from their website. For the sides and back of the safe there is an outer shell of 7ga steel, next layer is a 1 inch(0.0254m) 2300F rated ceramic wool blanket, next 1 inch (0.0254m) of 1000F fiber glass, then a 14ga steel inner liner. Because the materials in the safe are in contact with each other at their boundaries we can just add up their thermal resistances (similar to an electrical circuit with resistors in series) and determine the rate of heat flow Q. The coefficients (K) of materials in SI units used are: Steel (1%carbon) = 43 W/mC, Ceramic Wool = 0.06 W/mC, Fiber Glass = 0.04 W/mC. So substituting the appropriate thermal resistance coefficients and depth of material gives and the temperature difference between the 1275F house fire and average temperature of the safe’s interior to go from room temperature to 350F (in SI units though) gives the following:

Q(sides and back)=-1m^2(691C-100C)/(0.0048/43+0.0254/0.06 +0.0254/0.04+0.0019/43) = 549 W (per meter sq of surface area).

For the top and bottom of the Sturdy Safe there is an extra inch of Fiberglass insulation depth so that rate of heat transfer is: Q(top and bottom)= 349 W/m^2. For the door, there is thicker steel but the heat flow rate is basically the same as the top and bottom of the safe. So based on the dimensions of the safe we have the overall average heat flow rate would be:

Q (Overall Heat Flow Sturdy) = (4m^2)(349W/m^2)+(6m^2)(549W/m^2) = 4690Watts

For the AMSEC BF series safe there is a little reverse engineering needed since we don’t have specs on their “Drylight” concrete. The thing that we generally know about concrete is strength increases with density but the opposite is true for thermal insulation. Because the primary purpose of the insulation in the BF series safe is fire protection (and also based on comments made from those who have handled the material) Drylight is likely a Portland cement / Perlite mix aka Perlite Concrete). Since we know that AMSEC recently increased the density of the concrete mix and reduced the thickness of the shell of the BF from 10ga steel to 11ga steel, it is likely that the folks at AMSEC determined that they had room to increase the density of their concrete insulation without jeopardizing their UL fire rating. So based on that, my best guess is they were using a Portland cement to Perlite mix of 1:8 prior to the change but are now using 1:6. As reference, standard concrete has a thermal conductivity co-efficient K of 1.7 W/mC with a compressive strength around 3000PSI. Perlite concrete with a 1:6 mix has a K of 0.084 W/mC but a compressive strength of only 125PSI so there is a big tradeoff in strength to get the insulation properties.

As we know now from recent discussions, the body roof and floor of the BF series has three layers: an 11ga steel shell, around 2” of Drylight and another 14ga inner liner. The door has ½” of steel with 1” of Drylight for insulation. So doing a similar analysis as done above for the Sturdy safe shows that the overall average heat flow rate to the interior of the AMSEC BF series safe in a 1275F house fire would be:

Q (Overall Heat Flow BF Series) = 11,721Watts.

So based on this analysis, the AMSEC BF series safe transfers heat to the interior of the safe at a rate 2.5 times higher than the Sturdy Safe design. That would mean for the same house fire where an AMSEC BF series safe’s interior temperature reaches 350F the Sturdy safe would be around 185F. Also, since the AMSEC BF uses concrete with a significant mass as an insulating material, the insulation itself will hold heat and continue to transfer heat to the interior of the safe long after the fire ends and that’s even if the exterior had been cooled once. For the Sturdy Safe’s design, most of the mass is located on the steel shell with the light weight insulating material contributing a small percentage of mass and heat storing capacity of the safe so if you cool the exterior of the Sturdy safe after a fire, it won’t re-heat itself afterwards.

This is the longest comment I ever have made on a thread so I'd better stop but in my opinion and especially after doing this analysis, the Sturdy safe design is far superior to the AMSEC BF series in fire protection.
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:24 AM   #46
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Quote:
Of those two photos, the one that appears to have damaged content is the Sentry safe. It looks to me like that plastic bag melted and also some charring on that folded envelope where it made contact with the side wall.
You certainly have an interesting way of looking at photos. Your observations here are similar to the observations regarding the "hole punched in the safe" that was actually scratched paint.

Disregard the photos for a minute. How many safes have you personally seen opened after a fire? I have probably seen around 100, so I have some experience when it comes to seeing what is fire damaged and what is not.

Quote:
You can see there are plastic pistol cases that touch the side of the safe where the insulation is thinnest. Here is a picture of that plastic pistol case and pistol:
At what temperature would a plastic pistol case melt? At what temperature would a plastic sandwich bag or grocery bag melt?

Those plastic bags in the Sentry will usually melt in the 220 to 240 degree range. The plastic gun case in the Sturdy will usually melt in the 420 degree range. However, paper begins to change color at +/- 300 degrees, and will ignite at just over 400 degrees.

You can claim the photo is dark because it is a shadow, and then show a plastic gun case as your evidence. However, based on the numbers I just showed you, the paper could have been charred (which is probably was), and the plastic gun case could have still been in prstine condition.


Quote:
Yes that Sentry fire safe is made of a cast (concrete) mix which does allow it to evaporate water much like the drywall so it will do okay as long as there is still water to evaporate, once the water is gone or the pressure is too high for the water to boil; the heat will rise rapidly. Also, those Sentry safe can only pass a 1/2 hour test to 1550 Degrees F which as you likely know is due to the long cool down period with concrete type insulation.
I am glad you made that observation. The safe shown in that photo is in fact only a 30 minute safe.

How long do you think that safe was in the fire for it to burn into the basement? That safe performed beyond its rating. Not only did it survive an exposure longer than its rating, but it also maintained a lower temperature.


Quote:
Well that's not exactly true. I do know from AMSEC that Drylight is a concrete mix. So knowing that, I chose an aggregate with the highest thermal resistance I could find, Perlite, (it was later revealed that AMSEC uses Vermiculite as an aggregate in their fire lined safes which isn't as good as Perlite). Even with a 8 to 1 ratio of Perlite or Vermiculite to Portland Cement ratio; the concrete mix still conducts heat at least twice as fast.
So it is exactly true, when you say it's not. You "know" what it is, but can not find any information about it, so you choose a different material to run your numbers on.

Why would you choose a material that they use in the fire lined safes? That's not the material that they are using in their BF line.

I suppose you could do a bunch of math to prove something, if you actually knew the real numbers. But since you don't, I suggest a more simple method. Let's just look at what has a UL tag and what doesn't. I'll show you an AMSEC BF safe with a UL fire tag. Go ahead and show me a safe using ceramic insulation (solely) with a UL tag.
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Old January 10, 2011, 07:34 PM   #47
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Ask someone who would really know...

Quote:
a1abdj#42: Cast insulations do a better job of protecting contents against fire. It's not just my opinion. It's the opinion of UL, the major safe manufacturers, and although I can't speak for everybody, most of us in the business.
When it comes to fire protection in safes, we feel, ceramic is way more effective than cast insulations . UL AGREES WITH US.

Spreading misinformation on UL's behalf to sell safes (seeing as how your a 30 yr old safe salemen) will get you in deep trouble with UL, and they don't take these things lightly.

No one needs to take our word, or any other salesmans word for it, just contact people who would know. In this case, it would be Michael B. Koepke (Customer Service Engineer Elements with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. aka "the man to actually ask these questions to"). 877-854-3577 ext. 42902

When I asked Michael if he thought your statement quoted above is true when it came to cast vs. ceramic insulations, he said NO.
I asked Michael if there really are safes lined with ceramic with a UL Fire/Class# rating on them, and he said YES.
When I asked Michael if he could give the name and other details of these UL Fire/Class# safes lined with ceramic, he said he couldn't give out that info, and said I would need to contact the safe manufacturers direct so they could tell me what they used.
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Old January 10, 2011, 08:02 PM   #48
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Quote:
a1abdj: The Sturdy gun safe has some fire damaged contents.
Incorrect. The contents were not fire damaged.
Frank, I encourage you to do your homework before posting anymore incorrect information about us. We went ahead and recorded this evidence in our records, amongst all the other incorrect information you have said about us here (and on other forums).

Last edited by Sturdy Gun Safe, Mfg; January 10, 2011 at 08:20 PM.
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Old January 10, 2011, 08:17 PM   #49
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Quote:
When it comes to fire protection in safes, we feel, ceramic is way more effective than cast insulations . UL AGREES WITH US.
UL does? Somebody who works at UL does?

I find this curious, as UL isn't in business to promote any product or type of product. They merely exist as an independent testing facility.

Quote:
Spreading misinformation on UL's behalf to sell safes (seeing as how your a 30 yr old safe salemen) will get you in deep trouble with UL, and they don't take these things lightly.
I'm as much of a "safe salesman" as you are a "safe repair station". I'm actually a 35 year old who owns a full service safe and vault company. Granted, I've only been in this business since 1992, but I know a thing or two about safes and how they're built.

So what kind of misinformation are you talking about? What kind of trouble? I dont' think either exists.

Quote:
When I asked Michael if he thought your statement quoted above is true when it came to cast vs. ceramic insulations, he said NO.
I asked Michael if there really are safes lined with ceramic with a UL Fire/Class# rating on them, and he said YES.
When I asked Michael if he could give the name and other details of these UL Fire/Class# safes lined with ceramic, he said he couldn't give out that info, and said I would need to contact the safe manufacturers direct so they could tell me what they used.
You don't carry any UL ratings on your safes, yet you're on a first name basis with those at UL huh?

Of course there are safes using ceramics. Just about every data safe uses them. We've already discussed that here. I'm talking about primary insualtions, not secondary inserts.

I also find it odd that he won't tell you what products have their labels. As you have said, they are very particular about the use of their label, or more specifically the misuse of their label. I don't think that there's any secrets involved with who's had their safes tested and who hasn't. Perhaps you need to know the secret handshake or something.

Quote:
Incorrect. The contents were not fire damaged.
I guess that depends on the definition of "damaged".

Quote:
Frank, I encourage you to do your homework before posting anymore incorrect information about us.
I don't believe I have posted anything incorrect.

Quote:
We went ahead and recorded this in our records, amongst all the other incorrect information you have said about us, which you have yet to correct. Not just on this forum, but all the other ones you have been posting on. Just letting you know.
You're keeping records on me? If you feel it's worth your time, I guess I don't really have a problem with it. After all, it is a public forum. It's not like I'm saying anything here that I wouldn't want others to see.
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Old January 10, 2011, 08:28 PM   #50
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You don't need to be on a first name basis, anyone can call!

Quote:
You don't carry any UL ratings on your safes, yet you're on a first name basis with those at UL huh?
You bet. We have looked into it getting a UL fire rating. Unfortunately, their prices are still too high. However, he is more than willing to talk to anyone that calls, so go ahead and call! If your curious as to what his credentials are, (and believe me, he's a far cry from receptionist) just ask. When I called, I asked who the engineer is that handles safe UL Fire ratings and he was the guy I was referred to. There might be other engineers that can help, so go ahead and ask for them too if you like.

Your myspace says age 31, so that is where I got the age from.

Last edited by Sturdy Gun Safe, Mfg; January 10, 2011 at 09:01 PM.
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