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Old January 9, 2012, 10:45 AM   #1
JSmitty
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Some questions about safes and fire

I've been all over the Web and can't find an answer to these questions. I figure gun owners, like myself, probably deal with safes more than any other group, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were several bullion owners here too, so this might be the best place to ask.
  1. Will putting a fire chest - like a Sentry 1100 - inside a "non-fire" safe (for instance, an Amsec MS1414 or Hayman CV-14) serve the same purpose as a fire-rated safe?
  2. Would a fire chest inside a fire safe protect media (like UL-125 rating)?
  3. Are there any negatives to putting a UL-125 rated fire chest, like a Sentry QA0121, inside a "non-fire" safe (like the two mentioned above)?

I'm looking for a small safe for hard drives, silver bullion and slabbed coins. The plastic on the slabbed coins may melt below the standard 350° UL rating, that's why I'm attempting to get to UL-125 or UL-150, but the silver would be OK at 350°. Dedicated media safes are too small and too expensive.

I already have my guns in another small safe, so they aren't a consideration.


Thanks for your help.
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Old January 9, 2012, 07:57 PM   #2
a1abdj
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Quote:
Will putting a fire chest - like a Sentry 1100 - inside a "non-fire" safe (for instance, an Amsec MS1414 or Hayman CV-14) serve the same purpose as a fire-rated safe?
Yes,

Quote:
Would a fire chest inside a fire safe protect media (like UL-125 rating)?
Only if the chest was rated for media. Although it would seem that a fire safe inside of a fire safe would provide additional protection, UL has not determined that it does.


Quote:
Are there any negatives to putting a UL-125 rated fire chest, like a Sentry QA0121, inside a "non-fire" safe (like the two mentioned above)?
There are two routes you can go with the small chests. They make some designed as inserts, and some that are designed to be free standing. If you have a fire rated safe, the least expensive option is to use a data insert, and you can rely on the safe providing the initial protection.

In a non lined safe, you'll definately want to use the free standing option, as the safe itself is providing no initial protection. It may also be worth considering a free standing unit for a gun safe, since the protection they offer is suspect.
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Old January 10, 2012, 12:21 PM   #3
JSmitty
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Excellent! Thanks.

After hours and hours of research I'm considering a Cobalt S852 safe with a First Alert 2011F chest to hold the slabbed coins and hard drive, and my current Sentry 2300 chest to hold silver. This Cobalt looks extremely sturdy, with 1/2" door, 1/4" body and 5 bolts. Plus it's light enough (160#) that I can handle it by myself, prior to bolting it down. The First Alert is rated to hold CDs, DVD, memory sticks and external hard drives, so I would think plastic slabs would be fine.
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Old January 11, 2012, 11:26 AM   #4
a1abdj
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Just remember that even though a B rate safe is much more robust than a typical gun safe, that it is still very light weight as far as real safes go. On a commercial policy, it is very difficult to get coverage on a B rate, and when you do, it's usually for $10,000 or less in coverage.

For a variety of reasons, you can stretch that out a bit on a residential installation. If you have more than $20,000 worth of assets, I would either look at splitting them between B rates, or moving up a step.

Also keep in mind the whole "not all safes are created equal". The US built AMSECs and Haymans would be far better safes than the Cobalts just due to the construction of the safe itself. I used to sell the Cobalts, and they are a great safe for the price. They are however, not great safes.
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Old January 11, 2012, 12:14 PM   #5
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My opinion is to put more of your money into a good alarm system and hope for the best. After serving in the fire service for many years, I've seen many ruined firearms come right out of $2000 safes. The problem is that safes are usually tested between 1200-1400ºF, and usually for no more than 30 mins.-one hour. A roaring building fire may reach temps as high as 1700ºF, and will most likely last for several hours in rural areas. Your guns will in effect be baking in a heat treating oven. Some guys I know have built cement "safe rooms", but none have ever been tested. I keep thinking about those pictures of ancient ancestors baking bread with hot coals under ground! You have some good ideas. Prepare for the worst, and pray for the best.

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Old January 12, 2012, 10:27 AM   #6
JSmitty
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Interesting about the Cobalt. I'll take another look at Hayman and Amsec. I also looked at the Gardall B1515, but it looked to have the same features as the Cobalt, yet cost $100 more.

I don't want to go too big and heavy because; 1. I don't have the room, and 2. I'm going to remodel my house in the not-too-distant future and don't want to pay almost as much as the safe cost to have a mover move it out then back in.

I'm planning on putting this safe in a small closet, so I would think that would give me some extra security (less room to pry?). The walls of the closet are plaster, so I'm thinking that would be more of a time-consuming job to bust through than wallboard.

-----------------

As far as a "gun" safe that a7mmnutt brought up, my handguns are in a cheap Harbor Freight 1.5 cu ft safe. For $100, it's better than nothing. Actually, better than some more expensive safes I've seen. I only have less than $3,000 worth of guns and ammo in it. With this safe it's all about invisibility. It's in my unfinished basement, well-disguised and not readily accessible. It would be nice if I had some fire protection, but I understand that most fire-resistant chests give off moisture. And something like the FirePod is $200 for two handguns. So, for now they would be destroyed in a fire. I'm not sure what I could do to make this fire-resistant at a reasonable price.
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Old January 12, 2012, 10:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Interesting about the Cobalt. I'll take another look at Hayman and Amsec. I also looked at the Gardall B1515, but it looked to have the same features as the Cobalt, yet cost $100 more.
I don't know if you have any safe and vault companies near you, but you may also be able to find a used commercial B rate safe. These are very common, although most of them are of the depository variety.

You do have to make sure you're not buying a low grade safe that was used commercially, as it may cause you all sorts of problems. A well built safe will last almost forever.

The reason the Gardall has the same features as the Cobalt is that they are both the same safe. The safe is a Korean unit made by Eagle. This is a perfect example of paying a premium or saving some money due to the name painted on the door.

A good example of this is a local restaurant that opened about 5 years ago. When they approached me, they were very specific about wanting the least expensive B rate depository safe that met their size requirements. Since then, they have paid me more to work on the safe than they paid for the safe itself. Had they spent twice the money then, they would have never seen me since. Granted, they would have the same amount of money invested, but they wouldnt' have had all of the headaches.
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Old January 19, 2012, 09:48 AM   #8
JSmitty
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If you had a choice of one or the other for "pry-resistance" ... a thicker plate door (3/16 vs. 1/2") or a bolt in the top and bottom of the door, which would you choose?
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Old January 19, 2012, 11:20 AM   #9
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There are some other factors that could play into the safe being pried open, but assuming those things are similar between the two, I would go with the thicker plate.
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Old January 28, 2012, 12:16 PM   #10
JSmitty
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To put an end to this saga ...

As much as I thought I'd wind up with American Security, Cobalt, Hayman or Hollon, after tons and tons of research, I went with a Stack-On P-019-MB-E Premier Executive Safe.

It has a UL-RSC burglary rating, 60-minute fire rating, waterproof (somewhat), UL lock, live locking bolts on three sides and will fit well in the closet. And it was inexpensive (<$400/shipped) for a safe with these features.

I'd like to thank everyone for their advice. Even though I may not have followed it precisely, it did help me research and formulate a decision based upon my needs.

I wasn't even considering Stack-On due to its reputation as a low-end "cabinet" type of safe, but this particular model seems to compare well to safes costing $200-300 more and it seems to be the best compromise given my parameters..

Last edited by JSmitty; January 29, 2012 at 08:03 AM.
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