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RSC Decision - AMSEC or Sturdy

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by Shawrco, Sep 22, 2013.

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  1. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    Sorry, unless those two units were located side-by-side in the same fire, it's not a valid comparison. Different fires, different fuel sources, different maximum temperatures, different duration of burn, different wind if any, different response times by different fire departments. All those factors invalidate your comparison Simpson.

    900F
     
  2. guggep

    guggep Member

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    Also remember that the ceramic blanket designed for a boiler furnace is not the same stuff used on a space shuttle. The thermodynamics of these types of materials have already been worked out on other forums in great detail. Its an education.

    No calcs were done on exotics like actual space shuttle tiles & aerogels. Those types of materials may actually provide sufficient passive insulation, but they are crazy expensive. In reality no safe maker uses them because nobody could afford them
     
  3. Outlaw Man

    Outlaw Man Member

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    I would like, just for giggles, to see a NASA designed gun safe and the price tag it would carry. Ceramic tile fire protection, unobtanium locking bolts and door...

    It would be entertaining, for sure!
     
  4. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Come on guys, let's use some common sense. I wasn't suggesting that Sturdy was using the *same* materials as NASA. I was merely saying that NASA ceramics > Sturdy ceramics > cheapo fireboard gypsum.

    Would Sturdy still be in business if their safes didn't work?

    I'm sure AMSEC are outstanding safes. I have zero experience. But I went with Sturdy. If I were in the market, I would consider AMSEC too and make my decision. But I'm merely saying that I am happy with my Sturdy safe.
     
  5. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    If U.L. were a gimmick, banking institutions, government agencies, businesses and many others wouldn't trust it, nor get insurance coverage. Are you going to take the word of Sturdy or the rest of the world who insures probably hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars in value?

    Don't quote me on the numbers, I'm making them up to make a point. Call an insurer and ask them whether they'll insure the contents of your RSC or if they'll require a U.L. label.

    A non-U.L. approved phone power cord recently killed a woman in China. Ok, I'm stretching it now, but you get the point. Engineering/manufacturing relies on standards (or has imposed standards), etc.

    There are plenty of pictures out there which show that even RSCs using gypsum boards for fire protection have survived total burn downs. Those RSC's wouldn't pass a U.L. test though. To be honest, I'm speculating that some of these gypsum-based containers may even fare better than a Sturdy in a fire.

    The point is: we don't know the conditions, we don't know temperatures, we don't know duration, we don't know placement, we don't know anything. That's why we want to test things scientifically - so we can compare apples to apples. In the lab we can also create conditions far beyond what you'd experience in a typical home fire.

    Businesses buy the minimum required by insurance, home owners buy whatever is cheapest and biggest.

    I don't know what you were suggesting about ceramics, nor does it matter. Ceramics, like alloys, composites, fiber weaves and so on can have many different properties dependent on mixture, construction methodology, etc.

    The tiles NASA uses on their space shuttles vary, there are many different types all made for different purposes and they do their job for a very short period of time after which many are replaced.

    For some fun reading about the tiles, check this out: http://depts.washington.edu/matseed...e/Space Shuttle Tiles/Space Shuttle Tiles.htm

    I found it fascinating.

    Just because both have ceramic in the name doesn't mean they're even similar. I don't know why you made the connection if you didn't mean anything by it.

    Your saying: "I'm merely saying that I am happy with my Sturdy safe" is no different than someone saying they're happy with their gun locker. I mean it's cheap, easy to get in/out of, weights less, door is easier to swing and so on. In other words: it doesn't mean much. What does that even mean in the context of our discussion?

    That's a great point, but we know they use the same Mercury rating on their more robust safes which do go through the U.L. testing process. AMSEC also has the experience with the process and knows what works and what doesn't, so I would trust their engineering much more than a "trust me" from a company that doesn't conduct scientific testing.

    According to the VP of Engineering at AMSEC, if the BF were to go through U.L. testing, he believes it would pass a 30-minute U.L. test. I have to take his word for it, but then again, I'll take the word of an "expert witness" over nothing.

    Once again, the way I understand it, ceramics are a good insulator, but passive. Heat will get through slower, but once it does there's nothing preventing the temperatures from rising. Whereas concrete is "active." [My choice of words] As Brown safe explains it:



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


    Listen guys, I don't mean to sound like I know it all nor do I mean to say that Sturdy sucks or anything of the sort. I'm not an expert in any of this (as I assume most of you aren't). All I'm saying is that Sturdy uses unconventional material and their product is untested in any certifiable way. I'm sure they make a fine product, but if someone is looking for fire protection they can't make the assumption that somehow Sturdy knows what the rest of the industry doesn't and more so they can't claim superiority.
     
  6. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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  7. Simson

    Simson Member

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    Leadcounsel said:

    No explanation needed Leadcounsel, the ceramic fiber used in space shuttle tiles is likely very similar to the ceramic fiber used in the blankets lining Sturdy safes.

    So other than being the lightest solid known to man, what is so special about Aerogels that would make them so superior as in thermal insulator in a gun safe? If everyone agrees (including the VP of Engineering for a safe company) that Aerogels are so superior, that would mean a passive insulator would be the best substance to use for fire protection in a gun safe which I would also agree with as well. Aerogels are 99.8% air so assuming they block convection and radiate heating then only conduction heating would be the mode of heat transfer that will allow heat to pass across the insulation to the interior of the safe. In an environment of air, NASA shows that Aerogels conduct heat at a rate of 0.03 W/mK which is pretty good but is only a little better than fiberglass insulation at 0.04 W/mK. Ceramic fiber conducts heat a little faster but can tolerate much higher temperatures which is why it was used on the space shuttle. So Sturdy Safe is offering a gun safe with insulating properties very similar to the best materials NASA has to offer. No Study's choice of material isn't the lightest nor even in a rigid form but they don't need to be, they are well suited for doing the job they were meant to do.

    http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/aerogel_factsheet.pdf

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/thermal-conductivity-d_429.html
     
  8. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I've already said it several times.

    In the end, one doesn't need to know the science, they simply have to have a bit of common sense. The vast majority of safe manufacturers, throughout the world, choose to use cast insulations over ceramic. Those companies know the science, have done the math, and have run the tests.

    I'm sure the second they figure out that there is a better way of doing it, we will start seeing it done that way more often.
     
  9. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Simson, reading your post I'm pretty confident you're just trolling.

    However, right in your own post, you've repeated the problem which has been stated previously:

    How does a container enveloped in heat radiate heat?

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

    You know what, at the end of the day, I don't care about all the theories, especially from non-engineers who aren't in the field dealing with known problems. Rockola(?) was the closest thing to one and it seems he and the AMSEC Engineer have settled things after he was explained the flaws in his models (the exact one pointed out above, in fact). At least that's the way I understood it, I don't mean to speak for anyone and I'm certainly no expert.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't know that Sturdy's fire protection is inferior to other solutions. The reason I don't know? Nobody in the safe industry uses this material for fire protection and Sturdy hasn't performed any scientific testing.

    Similar insulation as used by Sturdy is used by safe makers, but only in data safes as a separate container encased in a concrete amalgamate container. However, these inner containers aren't exposed to the external dangers, they sit comfortably within the concrete safes.

    If Sturdy believes their claims, then they would test their product and they would fly off the shelves like hotcakes. Who wouldn't want something with superior fire protection and no moisture to contend with? I certainly would.
     
  10. Simson

    Simson Member

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    Well first off, I'm not a troll. I saw the discussion and I have some background knowledge so signed up to be a part. And, this is the only account I have here which the mods can confirm through my fixed IP address.

    Some insulating barriers do not block radiate heat very well so heat contributions from radiate heat have to be considered, example: a vacuum.

    I will admit, the UL fire rating tests do not favor a safe that is passively lined and I don't think Sturdy's Safe would have chance at passing. The safes are empty during UL testing (well other than a couple small items in some cases) so there is no heat sink to absorb the heat to dampen the rise in temperature. For most gun owners, they won't have that problem since few have gun safes that are empty. A gun safe that does use an insulation with an active component such as water will expose the contents of the safe to a steam bath (maybe not in Brown's case since the insulation is built around the inner shell) which in itself can be very damaging. So although on a data recorder at the UL labs shows the interior temperature has remained under 350F for the duration of the test, the steam generated has caused 100s if not 1000s of dollars in value loss to the guns that were to be protected.

    I have heard multiple people in the safe industry give examples of safes that had no insulation at all, just a steel shell, that went through fires with the contents having only minimal damage. What that tells me is the mass of the contents has played a part in their own survival. I suppose it would be like the freezer that all of a sudden experiences a power outage; as everyone knows it will remain cold longer if the freezer is full (thermal inertia) verses if it has only an item or two in it. That would be similar to a passively lined container such as Sturdy's safe or the Space Shuttle for that matter, the materials will act as a heat sink to slow the rise in temperature.
     
  11. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    I can show you photos of fires where cardboard shoe boxes survived, intact, with no damage at all. Does that mean we should store our valuables in shoe boxes?

    I have opened countless safes that have been burned in fires. I have seen what works, and what doesn't work, many times. But in the end, it sometimes comes down to luck. There are a lot of factors involved, and sometimes they simply work out in your favor. Sometimes they don't.

    Gypsum alone tends to work well in safes. The problem with gun safes, is that it is gypsum board, and not cast gypsum. This leaves voids, seams, and in most cases, no way to support the gypsum as the heat begins to break it down.

    Ceramics work great as a secondary insulation. Data safes have used this method for years: Cast insulation in the exterior construction, and ceramic insulation in the internal compartment. They have been building these safes like this long before Sturdy started building safes, so this is not some new innovation brought to us by a gun safe manufacturer.

    Anything helps in a fire. A steel box is typically better than no box. Anything that box is insulated with is better than no insulation at all.
     
  12. 2_ar

    2_ar Member

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    Yes, the Rockola guy (an engineer for Alcoa but with no actual experience in the subject matter he's arguing about: fire testing, fire-resistant safe design, thermodynamics and real world fire safe performance) is very much in love with Sturdy and has been going on for years about it on multiple forums (adirondack is another of his usernames). He was actually banned from this forum for constantly arguing about the awesomeness of Sturdy without actual facts and evidence to support his claims.

    The extent of his "research" and experience was phone conversations with company reps. No real world or in person experience, he didn't actually see any of the safes he was citing as evidence. He made many claims based on these phone calls that have later been disproved. Claims like UL would not fire test a gun safe. The Amsec VP of Engineering presented him with a photo of a gun safe he designed with a UL label showing it passed UL fire testing. It was discontinued by Amsec because of the cost and lack of demand.

    For many years the lynchpin of Rockola/adirondack's argument was a Gunnebo Chubb safe that allegedly was filled with "ceramic like" insulation and had passed a 2-hour UL fire test. Funny thing though, he forgot to mention that the Chubb safe in question weighed almost twice as much as a comparable Sturdy model and had a massive 3-4" thick solid cast concrete door. Yea, a real apples to apples comparison with Sturdy. Then he busted out as evidence in favor of Sturdy, a shady fire vault maker that used ceramic installation and made the claim that it had passed UL fire testing. Again, this was shown to be patently false. It had not passed any real UL testing and their website tried to imply that it did.

    What I see is Sturdy fans grasping at straws and talking about concepts that have not been proven and ridiculous things like comparisons to the space shuttle (see my earlier very appropriate analogy about comparing lawn mowers to Ferraris) with no actual evidence or testing or real world experience.

    A1 is being very generous when he says that most fire safe makers use cast insulation and have been doing so for over 100 years. The reality is that 99.9% of all safe makers in the world use cast installation for fire protection. He has been saying for years that cast installation was superior and it's great to see the Amsec engineer who literally wrote the book on modern fire safe design and testing provide the scientific facts and evidence behind it.

    Simson, why don't you hop on over to ARFCOM present your "argument" and then have thesafeguy summarily dismantle it piece by piece using scientific facts and 20+ years of relevant safe design and fire testing experience.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  13. Simson

    Simson Member

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    Wow, 2_ar quite the record book you've been keeping. So you are mentioning a guy that was been banned from here years ago but this is only your 3rd post, that seems a bit odd.

    It would be nice to have a discussion on the subject without all the mud throwing. I'm sure that VP of Engineering of Amsec has a lot of good reasons why their way is the best as I'm sure the VP of Engineering for Fort Knox or Liberty thinks using multiple sheets of "fire board" is better. An independent lab like UL should allow a consumer to chose but I haven't seen a gun safe with a UL fire rating so the consumer is kind of on their own. I guess for myself, short of finding a good used media safe at a decent price, I like the dry passive insulation approach Sturdy is taking. Maybe Brown's fire protection doesn't put moisture into the safe or maybe the Amsec HS series is similar with its heavy inner liner but no independent test to confirm either case that I have seen.
     
  14. 2_ar

    2_ar Member

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    The opinion and experience of Fort Knox Gun Safes and Liberty Gun Safes engineering guys is not equivalent to the Amsec engineer's experience. The guy who helped write UL fire and burglary testing standards, designer of the first retrofittable electronic safe lock, the first US made TL-15 and TL-30 composite safe, the first safe that passed UL burglary and fire testing, first UL listed for fire protection gun safe, just designed a TL-30x6 safe, numerous firesafes and gun safes, multiple patent holder, and much more vs gun safe makers who have never produced a single UL fire tested safe or any burglary tested safe beyond the very lowest level of RSC.

    All opinons are not equal. Amsec with 60+ years of making real commercial burglary and fire safes has more relevant knowledge and experience than all the sheet metal gun safe makers combined.

    You also missed the part where he discussed how fire board lined safes can do well in fires.

    Here you go:

    LXdoor-pg-16_zpsc8cd4b34.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  15. NotAGunNut

    NotAGunNut Member

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    Holy crap, 2_ar... seems we've read a lot of the same threads.

    I really wish you didn't crap on Rockola though. He's not here to defend himself and to be fair, he did try to use real science - whether it's applicable or not. It's healthy to have a good debate. Without those debates myself and many others wouldn't know half of what we know today.

    Simson,

    I think we would all like dry insulation. That's why I wish Sturdy did some testing to see what it can achieve. I'm sure the insulation offers something, but what is anyone's guess.
     
  16. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    2 ar;

    I notice that that U.L. certification only lists that it was good to hold the interior temperature at or below 350 f for half an hour without stating the burn temperature. Do you know what that temperature is? Also, would you mind stating what container that sticker is on?

    900F
     
  17. 2_ar

    2_ar Member

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    Don't remember the exact temperature max, I think it was 1550. It's an Amsec and the info for it is in the thread I linked.

    Here's the quote:

    "The listing was actually a dual listing, tested at Omega Point Labs and at UL in 2001 to prove it to be legitimate, both tests using the same UL72 test criteria with the ASTM E119 Fire Curve. This was done in an attempt to force an industry standard for fire ratings to be adopted. We sold this product for 2 years. Not a single competitor passed the test. We know many attempted, but kept it quiet when they failed, some more than once. This was a 2-layer gypsum lined safe, but with several firesafe-like attributes that Gunsafe manufactures don't understand. The safe was slightly more expensive, and the sales volume never grew enough to support the production. The competitors continued to convince the customers, dealers, distributors and wholesalers that their 60 and 90 minute ratings were legitimate, and that our REAL 30-minute fire rating was inferior. We finally decided to stop production. Our listed 30 minute safe will out-perform any Gunsafe in the market by a large margin. Advertising and deception won again"

    Pretty interesting considering how Sturdy trashes fire board lined safes on their website. Here you have one with a legitimate UL fire testing label.
     
  18. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    All of the UL tests are using standard temperatures. A 30 minute rating stops at 1,550 degrees, the 60 minute rating at 1,700 degrees, and the 2 hour rating at 1,850 degrees.

    This was an AMSEC safe that was discontinued, and honestly, I never even knew it existed until it was pointed out to me. There was also a safe that Prosteel (Browning) offered at one point that also had a 1 hour UL rating. I don't know if there are any others out there, but gun safes with UL fire ratings really do exist, contrary to what some have claimed.
     
  19. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    2 ar & A1abdj;

    Yeah, I knew the burn temps for both the U.L. one and two hour tests, but was not even aware that they had a 1/2 hour test. Thanks for the information.

    Or, as I've frequently put it: A triumph of advertising over reality.

    900F
     
  20. a1abdj

    a1abdj Member

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    You don't see it very often on safes. AMSEC's smaller BF line has one model with a half hour rating (BF 3416).

    Although many are getting away from the UL testing all together, the half hour rating used to be popular with the small fire box manufacturers like Sentry.
     
  21. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    A1abdj;

    I've been told that U.L. testing is so very expensive that smaller manufacturer's, like Graffunder, simply don't see the benefit/cost ratio working in their favor.

    900F
     
  22. TheSafeGuy

    TheSafeGuy Member

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    Can I Help?

    Hi gang.... TheSafeGuy here... :neener:

    Good read here. Glad to see that the references to other discussions are making a difference. I would hate to write all that stuff again, LOL.

    I would be glad to answer any questions that you might have. In the mean time, I'm going back to reading and maybe pick a few posts to address questions or add some technical clarity.

    I'm not here to sell, nor argue. I'm here to help, educate, enlighten even. If I'm not welcome, I'll step back and keep my friends over on the other site informed...
     
  23. TheSafeGuy

    TheSafeGuy Member

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    The largest in the BF Security Safe Line is the BF3416. As Frank points out, that safe has a 30-minute rating. This is stark evidence of the extraordinary conditions of UL Testing under UL72 using the ASTM E119 fire curve. Let me explain how this came to pass...

    First, the UL72 standard allows you test a given safe size, as measured by internal volume. They then allow sizes to be placed in the final procedure files that start with the tested size and go down to anything that provides 50% of the tested safe's volume. They do NOT allow any upward listings by size at all. Remember, UL has been fire testing for over 100 years, they know all there is to know about fire testing. So, there is a definite problem as safes get bigger.... they need greater and greater fire protection to survive this highly controlled and consistent test program. At some point, a passing design will fail as you scale that specific design up. Thicker walls, better door closure, better seals, better construction and a host of other secret sauce attributes must be improved as you step up in size.

    So, back to the BF Security Safe line. I designed the largest capacity BF1716 for a 1-hour listing in March of 1994. Getting a heavy plate door safe to pass a 1-hour test was a major R&D effort that took a year, and doing so set a standard that has yet to be matched in the industry. Many have copied the design, but none have won listings. Copies are simply sub-standard knock-offs.

    Once I had the listing for the smaller safe, we wanted to place a larger model in the lineup. We went in with the BF3416, and I had to make a call during the test to stop at 30 minutes, or risk a failure going for 1-hour. The added heat energy on the larger, but identical construction, was resulting in marginal performance. Understand, when the test is not over when you shut off the furnace. There is a "soak" period after the furnace is shut down, and the test is not terminated until the internal temperatures in the safe are clearly falling.

    The UL furnace is quite unique. The walls are refractory brick, not insulating rock-wool like every other test furnace in the USA. The difference is that there are three modes of heat transfer; Convection, Condition and Radiation. The flames and hot gasses represent convective heat energy. The exposure does not impose any conductive heat sources. However, the brick gets very very hot in that big box, and it glows red-hot for a long time after the furnace fires is doused. That red-hot brick is like a big infra-red cooking element, constantly throwing more heat energy into the sample under test until it cools off naturally. So, when the fire goes out, there is still a major period of endurance yet to survive. More than 90% of UL tests fail during the soak period. The thermal shock of extinguishing the fire, along with the continued rain of IR energy keeping the temperatures in the furnace well over 1000ºF for more than 30 minutes is no cake walk.

    With a safe like the BF, there is an added challenge... that big chunk of steel on the door is red hot. It's holding tons of heat energy. The furnace is too hot to act as a cooling sink, so that energy can only migrate inwards into the safe as thing naturally try to reach an equilibrium. Ample hygroscopic water content is necessary to survive this torture. If the steam reserves are spent during the test, the soak will kill you.

    So, watching the data probes, and with years of experience both passing and failing tests, I knew I had to stop the test at 30 minutes. I felt is was too close, and the design needed to be heavier to get a 1-hour rating in this larger size. We never went back to try again, the expense vs the sales volume never justified the added R&D costs. One test at UL can run up to as much as $30,000 today. You don't roll dice when you are spending that kind of green. So, that's why the BF3416 has a 30-minute listing... I flinched. Still, after 17 years, nobody has met the challenge with an equivalent rating....

    This story should open your eyes to some obvious concerns about gunsafes... particularly very big ones.

    TSG
     
  24. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    And there, in more detail and engineer-speak, is the same information I've been putting out here for years. It's always nice to have an indepenent confirmation, thank you safe guy.

    900F
     
  25. TheSafeGuy

    TheSafeGuy Member

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    The science of heat transfer is frequently thought of as theoretical. It's not. The equations we use to describe thermal behavior is highly accurate, and only very small errors are found due to some extremely small factors we ignore. Kind of like the wind resistance on a car, we ignore the valve stems on the wheels.

    The materials like Aerogel are amazing, but hey are still only around 3 times better than common home insulation. It's not like they are hundreds of times better. The heat transfer is still there, just slowed down by a factor of maybe 3 or 4. Do the math, you will be surprised.

    As for space travel, and dry insulation in spacecraft. The elephant in the room is the Delta-T. In a fire, the dT is on the order of 1100-1600 degrees. In space, worst case conditions is on the order of 200-300 degrees, and generally much less due to engineered materials that block IR influx. Why do you think they use gold, silver and paint everything white? These temperature differentials are easily controlled with active heating and cooling systems.

    This is science, not witchcraft or black magic. There are hundreds of years of proof that the mathematical models of heat transfer are very accurate. As for the fire resistant value of a dry liner... let the math do the talking, and believe the results. Without a reactive means of absorbing and expelling energy, the internal wall temperature reaching destructive levels even with outstanding insulation is on the order of minutes wen you only have a couple of inches in the walls. The dT here is extraordinary. The heat transfer rates are phenomenal with so much thermal force. And, if you are curious, packing the insulation reduces the R-value and negates the greater volume of material. You must add thickness, physically making walls thicker, to get more energy barrier from a given material.

    This is not to say that a dry insulation is worthless. In moderate conditions, it works pretty well. The question is about the exposure intensity.
     
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