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amsec bf 6636

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by jetsfan-24, Feb 27, 2010.

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  1. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    Sorry for not keeping up, but Easter was more important. :)

    The issue of fire resistance and gun safes is one that I too wish could be resolved, but it never will be unless the manufacturers all get together and come up with either a standardized test or utilize the services of a lab who will do that. Catchy names like "Mercury" or "Phoenix", to name a couple, are meaningless.

    To say that ratings offered by numerous gun safe manufacturers are without merit is laughable. Some are more straightforward than others in revealing how they came up with their numbers, but fireboard is very much an effective insulator. Fort Knox, for example (since it was mentioned), provides full data on their fire test which shows ramp up times and corresponding internal temperatures at specific time periods. In today's legal environment, don't think for a minute that they couldn't/wouldn't be taken to court over false advertising if they couldn't back up their numbers. Showing a photo of a safe on fire or one that has been through a fire is meaningless in determining how much protection it afforded or will afford.

    As for AMSEC, yes, they are one of the few companies who build gun safes that also build commercial safes. That hardly makes them immune to the same marketing strategies used by other gun safe manufacturers. Funny, I don't recall seeing any test parameters on their website where their BF series is concerned. Bottom line is (again), a safe is either UL listed for fire protection or it isn't. The BF isn't. What difference does it make that its big brother is a little thicker by virtue or more insulation and will get the UL certification? It's not as simple as that.

    Using a secondary safe, like the aforementioned Sentry, is something I've advised my customers to do for years, despite the fact I don't sell such products. Be aware that items such as film, computer disks, photos, etc. will still need additional protection even in a UL listed 1 hour safe.
     
  2. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    So out of the thousands of safes that carry UL fire ratings, please point me to one that uses it.

    Let me make it gun related. Lots of rated bullet proof vests are made using Kevlar. Lets say you need a bullet proof vest, and only two are available. One is made with Kevlar, and is of similar construction to those rated vests that you're familiar with. The other is made of some material that you've never heard of, and have never seen used on a rated vest.

    Neither are rated, but which one would you trust more?

    I have a few photos that I'll eventually post that show how well drywall works as insulation in real world fires.
     
  3. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    You keep dancing around this issue of fire resistance and UL fire ratings, but you insist on presenting this BF series as superior to safes with comparable fire ratings. Why is that?

    As for no UL fire rated safe using fireboard, I've never argued that point. The biggest problem with safes having this rating is their gross weight. Most homeowners need volume to store their firearms, and a UL fire safe with such volume would weigh far more than what would be feasible for the average homeowner or the average home for that matter. I submit that as being the primary reason these manufacturers use fireboard. It doesn't take any special skill or equipment to pour concrete between two thin layers of steel. That's what you get with an AMSEC composite, UL listed fire safe.

    There are a few mom and pop-type operations who still want to play games with ceramic wool, and while those address the weight problem, I've yet to see any scientific evidence of their effectiveness in a fire. Again, photographs do not tell the whole story of how well a safe will survive in a fire. Surely you will agree that all fires are not equal, and for every photo you can provide of a fireboard-insulated safe that failed, I can come up with those that did not.

    That brings us back to the topic of liability. If these manufacturers are claiming unreal numbers in their tests and their safes are burning up in fires, how can it be that they are still in business?

    You take a homeowner who can document the time between his call to a fire department and the time the fire is extinguished, and you have a pretty good baseline for how long his safe was exposed. If that exposure is significantly less than what is advertised by that manufacturer, it would be a slam dunk in a courtroom. I have yet to see any of the major gun safe manufacturers being sued for such a failure in a fireboard insulated safe, have you?
     
  4. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Because it is. It's also not just the AMSEC, I simply think it's one of the best buys for the price. I sell an imported fire safe that's actually built heavier than the AMSEC (and sells for less) that uses a similar insulation. Graffunder uses a similar insulation. All of these safes are superior to those that use sheet rock.

    Not really. There are plenty of fire rated safes that are large enough for guns that are in the same weight range as many of the gun safes on the market. I have several large double door safes that carry UL fire ratings, and weigh less than 1,500 pounds.

    It does take skill and equipment. If fireboard is lighter, less expensive, and equally as effective, every UL listed safe on the market would use it.

    I'm surprised more aren't sued, but the manufacturer has a simple defense.

    [LAWYER] Mr. Homeowner, you are aware that the safe you purchased was rated at 1,200 degrees for a period of one hour. You claim that your safe failed to protect under these conditions. Could you please tell us what scientific equipment recorded the events of your particular fire? How do you know that the temperature didn't exceed 1,200 degrees? Everybody knows that temperatures higher than this are common in home fires. After all, this is why UL tests their safes at 1,700 degrees and above.[/LAWYER]
     
  5. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    Looks like we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. You mention Graffunder as something superior when it comes to fire resistance, but like the BF series AMSEC, it isn't UL listed for fire either. Seems to me this one is falling into the category of a little bit pregnant. :D

    Just for giggles, point me to a UL fire safe that is set up for long guns. The only one I'm familiar with is AMSEC's Amvault which is way heavier and smaller in cubic feet than gun safes which will hold the same number of guns. When pricing by cubic feet of volume, they are much more expensive as well.
     
  6. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I should have been a lawyer.

    I found this lawsuit, and Liberty's defense was not far off from what I said above:

    http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache...berty+safe"&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&ie=UTF-8

     
  7. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    AMSEC's AMVAULT, and most other composite burglary safes are not UL rated for fire protection either. Bonus points if you can explain why that is. I'll give you a clue: The safes could probably pass if tested, so it has little to do their ability to protect. I should also point out that like the BF series and the Graffunder, these safes do not use gypsum board, but are cast construction.

    Browning (Prosteel) sold one once upon a time.

    However, there is a pretty good reason you do not see them. Cost. A safe that offers substandard protection can be produced and sold cheaply. A safe that offers real protection costs real money.

    A Schwab 1 hour fire rated safe (with UL label) with interior dimensions of roughly 60x36x18, weighs 1,129 pounds, and has a list price of a little over $10,200.
     
  8. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    Umm, I asked you for examples of UL listed fire safes for guns, but you gave me this?

    I hate to break to to you but Browning/Pro-Steel NEVER built a safe that was UL listed for fire. Did I mention I was dealing with Pro-Steel back as early as 1978 before Browning came into the picture?

    As for the Amvault I spoke of, they do/did in fact carry a UL one hour fire rating. As best I recall, they were available with an upgrade to a two hour rating. As for your quoting the old, "you get what you pay for", sales pitch, you're getting a safe that doesn't have a UL fire listing when you buy a BF series or a Graffunder, but I think we've beaten that one to death. If they could, "probably pass if tested", give me a break. You come up with their safes not being UL listed for fire having "little to do their ability to protect", how the heck does that translate to you singing the praises of them using a smaller amount of the same insulating material than a safe that is UL listed for fire?

    I have news for you, you'd make a much better politician than you would an attorney.;)
     
  9. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    I can see why that would be an issue. As I stated above, not all fires are the same. However, if you advertise a 1680 degree, 90 minute or 2 hour rating as is the case with Fort Knox, you'd best be able to back up your claims.
     
  10. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    There aren't any. I can't give you examples of something that doesn't currently exist.

    Well Browning has never built a safe. And you are correct, as Prosteel didn't build one either. They did however import a fire rated safe and put a gun safe interior in it. From memory I'm wanting to say it carried a UL fire tag, but it's possible I'm wrong. I'm going to see if I can dig up information on it, which may be difficult since it is a 20 year old safe.

    Even if it didn't have a UL rating, it would have had a JIS or similar rating. Either way, it was a cement filled safe.

    They certainly don't currently, and I don't recall them ever having a UL fire rating. Most burglary rated safes do not also carry a UL fire rating. There is a reason for this.

    Actually, I've said you're getting more for the same price (as far as the BF series is concerned).

    This is what happens when one who has actual safe knowledge debates a "safe guy" who has no actual safe knowledge at all. What makes you different than the clerk at wal-mart selling Sentry fire safes?

    You may have sold them for years, but you haven't done much else. Ever notice that most car dealers have body shops and service departments? This is because most car manufacturers demand that their retailers have the knowledge and ability to support a product. Gun safe manufacturers will sell to almost anybody, and it shows.

    I'm not debating the differences in ability to protect from one model to another. I'm debating the differences in ability to protect from one form of insulation to another. Cast methods are supperior to dry wall. Period. There's not much debate on this, as any professional will agree with me. This is why you don't see it used in UL rated safes. It's not nearly as complicated as you're making it out to be.
     
  11. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Can you ID this safe?

    burnedsafes01.jpg

    I have an interior photo as well. Do you have any photos of safes using cast materials for insulation? If so, we can compare.
     
  12. JCinPA

    JCinPA Member

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    I shouldn't jump between you guys, but I'm gonna anyway. I'm dumb that way. :D

    a1abdj is right, the Amvault most definitely does not have a UL class 350 one-hour rating. From their website . ..

    I also started a search for a safe that was big enough to be considered a gun safe, and had both a UL class 350 one-hour fire rating and a UL RSC burglary rating. They are darned hard to find. Plenty of good firesafes from the likes of Sentry with the UL fire rating, but not the RSC. Plenty of RSC rated safes, but not the UL fire rating (always 'factory rating').

    Finally I found one, the Meilink Dauntless,
    And a1abdj is right again, they get heavy and expensive fast. Here are dimensions for their largest Dauntless, which would be small by gun safe standards.

    BC5428-1
    Inside 54¾ H 28 5/16 W 19 7/8 D
    Outside 60 5/16 H 34 1/16 S 29 1/8 D
    18.0 cf, 1250 pounds

    The closest to those dimensions in the Amsec BF series is the BF6030
    Outside 59 1/4 H 30 W 26 D
    They don't publish it but they do say 2" walls and a 4 3/4 door, so subtracting those out, you get
    Inside 55 1/4 H 26 W 19 1/4 D

    Close enough for government work. It is 976 pounds, and has a 90-minute 'factory rating' and the UL RSC rating. So the fire rating is not directly comparable. But an Internet price on the BF6030 came up about $1,895 and a Meilink Dauntless came up $1,750. Again, close enough for government work, I think. The Amsec BF is simply set up for gun use much better, I think that's worth the small price difference.

    But The Meilink isn't nearly big enough for my needs. The Amsec BF series comes in a 72X40 and a 72X50 at prices which while not cheap, at least won't have you mortgaging the home. Someone might find slightly different prices, I'm sure, but I satisfied myself the Amsec BF series is manufactured like the Meilink in most respects.

    I don't think you guys will ever settle this, it does not lend itself to deductive proof. But inductively, I think this comes down in favor of a1abdj, at least to my mind. The reason is this. Although they don't all publicize in their marketing material what they use for insulation, based on similar weights (for similar size) and wall thickness between those we know use cast material and those we don't know, we can induce that probably the ones we don't know, in fact use cast material. I'm willing to take a1abdj at his word that they nearly all do. Reading about safe history, I've found that this has been the case for many years.

    I find it highly improbable that the gun safe makers have stumbled upon some mysterious new magic that has somehow eluded the commercial and bank safe makers and the media and record firesafe folks and continues to elude them in their current models.

    Within some limits an RSC is an RSC from a burglary standpoint. Granted Sturdy Safes 7 gauge wall is much better than a 12 gauge wall, but I suspect that the BF composite wall is pretty much just as good as the 7 gauge wall, or very nearly so, for hand tools. That's it. If the thieves bring a disc saw, all these safes are going to be opened. End of story. That's why I find it so funny that Fort Knox puts all that fancy and pretty looking lockwork in RSC containers! A true TL-30X6 safe almost always has much simpler lock and bolt work than a Fort Knox. I'm not saying they don't make one, but I've never seen a TL-30 commercial safe with corner bolts yet.

    I believe this will still be unresolved from a deductive standpoint, but I'd still induce the BF is likely as good or better a fire and burglary protector as any safe for similar money because it looks to be made substantially the same way the Meilink Dauntless, and every other UL rated fire and UL rated burglary safes are made. There are B-rate gun safes out there that may be better at either fire or burglary protection or both, but they are likely a lot more money. I mean if you are getting the top of the line Summit, you're in Graffunder pricing territory, and nowhere near the BF line. I think this line of reasoning is pretty compelling.

    If I wasn't going to go with the BF, though, I have to say I'd probably favor the ceramic blankets over the fire board. Again, the ceramic and fiberglass stuff is used to insulate commercial ovens, the fire board is not. I find that interesting, too, don't you? Apparently the best characteristic the fire board has is its price. Or you'd see it in your local pizza shop's oven.
     
  13. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    Exactly! And they don't exist for the reasons I listed.

    I am well aware that Browning has never built a safe as Pro-Steel starting building them exclusively for Browning around 1983 or so. Initially Pro-Steel kept its current dealers, but that didn't work out too well as the Browning dealers were claiming "their" safe was superior to a Pro-Steel. In reality, the only difference was the decal which was supplied with the safe. If you were a Pro-Steel dealer, your safes came with a Pro-Steel sticker which you had to install. If you were a Browning dealer, your safes came with a Browning/Pro-Steel sticker. In order to keep the confusion out of the picture, they converted me to a Browning dealer though I'm not a gun dealer.

    The safe you speak of was an import, but it was not UL rated. As I recall, it did have a JIS rating, but it was an extremely poor selling safe. As with other such safes, the interior volume was just too small.


    You are referring to the Amvault I mentioned which at one time did have a UL fire rating. I'm sure AMSEC could confirm that, but it's really not the main issue here, is it?


    First, you claimed Pro-Steel built a UL listed fire safe for guns, but they didn't. And you want to claim I'm the one with no actual knowledge at all?

    You may be able to drill safes and service them, but I've forgotten more about gun safes over the past 30 years than you'll ever know. Unless you yourself are an engineer who has personally tested all these various safes, your opinion doesn't mean squat. I base my statements on 30 years of selling safes on a national scale and being very much in the loop where these manufacturers are concerned. I get feedback from those same customers as you had better believe if they buy a safe from me that doesn't do its job, I'm going to hear about it. That's what sets me apart from your "Wal-Mart" clerk. What sets you apart from the typical locksmith who takes a few months training from the local vo-tech school or learns through OJT during the same period of time?

    As for making this complicated, you are doing a very good job of that when you attempt to give more credibility to fire testing done on the BF Series AMSEC or the Graffunder simply because they use a different type of insulation. It's the safe, not the insulation, that is being tested.

    Now then, are we having fun yet? :)
     
  14. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Sears has been selling safes for well over 100 years. By your definition, Sears knows more about safes than you and I combined.

    What knowledge does selling a product get you? I suppose you get to read the sales literature before anybody else. You get to talk with the people who build gun safes? Most of them don't know anything about safes either. Heck, one of the major manufacturers sent me a copy of a page out of a book written by a safe tech when I had a question about THEIR safe.

    Since you've forgotten more about safe in 30 years than I'll ever know, why am I always the one answering your questions? Shouldn't you be educating me about safes?

    Let's see some of your photos. As an expert, you surely have a lot to share. 30 years of experience can build up a large collection. I've only been in this business (the safe and vault business, not as a gun safe salesman) for 20 years, and I have thousands of them. I have proof to back up my claims, so let's see yours.

    What sets me apart from the local locksmith? I'm not in the locksmithing business. Locksmiths work on doors and cars. I'm a safe company, I only work with safes and vault doors.

    My credentials? There's a few photos on my website. I work with all facets of the commercial and residential security market. I work with everything from 30 pound wall safes up to 22 ton vault doors. This includes new & preowned sales, service, installation, and restoration. Gun safes make up less than 5% of my business.

    If guys like you know so much about safes, why do the manufacturers call guys like me when they have problems with them?
     
  15. Keizer

    Keizer Member

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    Can you even classify drywall as an "insulation"? In the construction business we use double layers of sheet rock on the wall dividing the attached garage and the living space of the house. It has never been called an insulator, but rather a "fire break". The idea is, that fires are easily started in a garage, and the fire break gives you extra time to get out of the house before it reaches the living space.

    Sheet rock is fire resistant, but as far as its insulating capability, I would guess it's pretty crappy. In a gun safe environment, it would keep flames from licking at your valuables for awhile, but I doubt it would keep heat away from them. Not to mention, as soon as the paper on sheet rock burns away, the board will crumble and expose the valuables.

    I look at sheet rock as more of a flame resister, not a heat resister.
     
  16. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    A1, for whatever reason, you want to make this a personal pi$$ing contest between the two of us as opposed to imparting impartial advice. I'm not a manufacturer, and neither are you. Sorry if you view me as the "new" guy who has invaded your turf. Your Wal-Mart and Sears analogies are a bit silly given all I sell are safes and have been doing so for over 30 years. I've seen them inside and out, and I too ask questions as to be able to field them when my customers want the straight scoop.

    You want to argue about manufacturer's test data, but you seem to want to pick and choose which manufacturer's data is credible and which isn't. I can only guess this is because you have a hidden agenda with your recommendations.

    Yes, manufacturers call guys like you to fix their products, but I dare say none have contacted you regarding your expertise in fire testing or construction techniques. Manufacturers contact me because of my reputation as a straight shooter and my ability to sell safes. In short, I know what people want when they go safe shopping, and I choose manufacturers who can deliver a quality product at a competitive price.

    Now then, I hope this exchange has been helpful to the OP. Maybe he'll let us know what he decides.
     
  17. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Not a pissing contest. I just don't like misinformation being spread. This starts with, and is perpetuated by those that have no real life experience with the subject.

    Actually I am. We run a full fabrication shop here. It's pretty rare that we build from the ground up, we're usually just making modifications, retrofitting, or replicating unavailable parts. However, I am fully capable of building a safe or vault door from scratch.

    I don't mind you "invading". There have been several other safe guys around. We all get along just fine. What I do mind is when somebody comes in here with "facts" that they've "heard or read" that do not jive with what I have "seen in real life, and touched with my own hands".

    Straight scoops are not to be found from anybody who's primary business is gun safes.

    We haven't even breached the subject of test data. I have a lot to say about that as well. I'm simply talking about materials being used.

    No hidden agenda here. I sell single vault doors that cost as much as 100 single AMSEC gun safes (not counting delivery and installation). I could sell zero gun safes and still survive just fine.

    How do you know which companies I have worked with and which ones I haven't? I can help you narrow it down. I would never work with a gun safe manufacturer because I can't stand most of their shady practices.

    Just like Ford engineers consult with the top Ford salesmen when they're working on a new engine design? I'm sure the salesmen have a lot to teach those engineers.

    I'm assuming that the average consumer wants smoke and mirrors, since that's what most gun safe manufacturers are selling.

    I'm still waiting for your photos of safes that have failed in a fire that were using a cast insulation. I'm also waiting for you to identify the burned safe I posted a photo of before.
     
  18. JCinPA

    JCinPA Member

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    Browning Gold or Platinum series?? Based on handle and dial positions and hinges.
     
  19. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    A1, if you want photos, I'm sure I can come up with some for you, but all I have are first hand accounts of customers who have had their safes go through a fire. Hate to burst your bubble, but of the tens of thousands of safes I've sold, I can count on one hand the number of customers who have contacted me concerning their safes being involved in fire. Same with numbers of safes which were compromised.

    I've seen cases where gun safes survived a fire with all contents intact, and I've seen the same exact safe come through a fire where all contents were a total loss. As I stated earlier, all fires are not equal. Then come all the variables about placement within a structure and the construction of that structure. Laboratory testing is controlled, real world fires are not.

    If you take the time to read the information I offer to my customers, you will see where I too tell them about the pitfalls in making head to head comparisons with fire test data. Sorry to disappoint you, but I have passed on several sales when customers informed me they were purchasing a gun safe to store their family photo albums in. Last thing I want is to get a phone call from a customer who lost their priceless heirlooms based on a safe I sold them. I am up front with my customers and tell them there is no such thing as fireproof or burglarproof. With that, I just help them make a personal risk assessment and make recommendations based on what they tell me.

    So if you have no faith in gun safes, why are you recommending this AMSEC? Oh yeah, I forgot, it has some of the same insulation that is used in commercial safes with UL fire ratings. So do you think they are under-rating the BF series with their "Mercury" testing? Oh yeah, my bad again... you think they would probably pass the UL test.

    popcorn.gif
     
  20. SafeGuy

    SafeGuy Member

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    I would agree, but not necessarily that it would be a Gold or Platinum Series as all their safes share the same placement where hardware is concerned. Pro-Steel claims to have had non-insulated safes survive fires as well.
     
  21. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    So you're admitting that you have no actual knowledge, just what you have heard.

    I claim that the cast insulations are better than gypsum board. I have and will post photos showing the failures of safes using gypsum board.

    You claim that gypsum board is just as good as cast insulations. Therefore, you should be able to post photos of safes using cast insulations that have failed.

    I'm waiting.
     
  22. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    JC was right. It is a Browning, although I do not know exactly which model. According to the owner, it had a 1 hour fire rating.

    As you can tell from the first photo, it was a single story residential structure.

    Here you can see exactly what happened to the gypsum board insulation, as well as the contents stored within the safe.


    burnedsafes02.jpg
     
  23. JCinPA

    JCinPA Member

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    Ouch! Well, at least a few of them do get through fires, to be fair, we've seen the vids.

    But I'm still sold by the inductive argument that practically all or virtually all UL rated fire safes and media vaults use some form of cast insulation and have for decades, and none of them use gypsum board. It may be 'unscientific' but it's good enough for me.

    I'm guessing from measurements of actual UL class 350 one-hour rated safes that if the Amsec BF walls were about 2.6" thick instead of 2", they'd get the rating. But I like them a whole lot better than the gypsum board safe I have now. And it's good practice to put really critical papers, photographs and media in a media cooler inside the safe.

    a1abdj, the ceramic and fiberglass insulation blankets used on some higher end gun safes--are they better than the gypsum board? Maybe not as good as the cast, but in between?
     
  24. Keizer

    Keizer Member

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    Exactly what I figured would happen. The paper burned up, and the board crumbled apart. Like I mentioned earlier, it shouldn't even be called insulation. Insulation would have repelled the heat from the outside. Instead, it absorbed it, caught the paper on fire, and the board crumbled and became totally useless. Am I wrong in assuming that paper should not be any part of an insulation product when we are talking about fire?
     
  25. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    Based on what I've seen, they would probably be about equal when it comes to the initial exposure to heat. They would probably have a slight edge to gypsum because they do not degrade at high temperatures.

    Ultimately all three are designed and engineered to do different things. Gypsum board is designed to be a flame barrier. Ceramic furnace insulation is designed to retain heat inside of a small space. The fill material used in to insulate safes is designed to keep heat out of a small space.

    I have seen all types of materials used in safes, even in UL rated units. This includes gypsum board, although none of these oddball materials were ever the primary insulation.

    I also sell safes that use gypsum board as insulation.

    The difference is I'm up front with my customers. When selling a gypsum lined safe I explain the faults and let the customer decide if they are comfortable with that risk. I've found that most of the companies selling gun safes simply repeat what's in the sales literature, tell the customer how great it is, and now you have somebody living with a false sense of security.
     
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