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Antique Safes/Asbestos, How good for Safe fire protection?


QUESTION: I have a Globe Wernicke 2 door Safe, and I was wondering about the fire rating. I know it most likely has asbestos as the fire proofing maternal, and that it wouldn't meet today's fire rating standards, but would it still protect my ammo in a fire? It's says it's a class B fire rating, that's 1850 for 2 hours. Is it not still the same? If not, do you know what fire rating it would be equal to (more or less) with today's standards? All I need the safe for is to store ammo in because of a fire. Chris

ANSWER: Chris,

Asbestos is a great fire / heat retardant or insulator.   That being said safes built over 50 years ago DO NOT meet current standards for fire or burglary.   As Globe-Wernicke only manufactured safes between 1911 to 1917, this would include your safe.

What the safe was rated at 100 years ago, is not what it will perform at today, for a number of reasons.   Over the years the insulation material may become cracked and broken.   The material may settle in the door or the walls, creating voids which would let heat in.

Using the safe for storage and "EXPECTING" the same fire protection out of it as when it was new, would be like owning a business, and having your great-grandfather work as a security guard for you.
Just because it was tested at 1850 degrees for 2 hours in 1911, does NOT mean that it will still perform to that standard today.

That being said, as long as you are NOT putting items in the safe which are hard or impossible to replace, like valuable documents, I would probably use it, and AMMO storage would be something that I would consider "OK".

It all boils down to "RISK", regardless of whether you are betting in Las Vegas, or storing your "stuff" in this safe, YOU are taking a risk - the amount that is OK to lose is the risk.   If that amount is $1000 at the gambling table, and/or $1000 worth of AMMO in this fire safe, then you have determined that THIS is an acceptable risk.   If you are worried about losing this amount of ammo in a fire, then the risk is NOT acceptable, and you should look for a more modern safe which offers the same fire resistance, but is new and meets current standards.

Hope that "sorta" answers your question.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes it does. What if I completely line the inside with a new sheets of fire repellent boards, I wouldn't lose that much in space, but I'd gain in "peace of mind". I could then still use it as a ammo storage, and it's got to be cheaper than buying a whole new fire safe in the same size. Don't know how much a sheet of that stuff costs, but just thinking. A friend of mine bought a new large rifle safe and then added some sheets, and doubled the fire layers. I realize at that point the safe has never been tested in that configuration before, even 100 years ago. What are your thoughts?  Thanks Chris


Unless YOU burn your safe, in an oven at 1800 degrees F. for a given period of time, with the proper instruments to see what the temperature does inside of your safe, the answer is "Your guess is as good as mine, about whether adding the insulation will do any good or not".

Your Globe-Wernicki has lots of room, so you want be losing much space, and you are correct, this would be much cheaper than buying a new safe, just for ammo storage.   Just make sure that you get the UL rated, HEAT or fire resistive sheet rock, and not regular or green rock (moisture barrier).

I still would NOT place cash, jewelry or valuable documents (not easily replaceable), but for the AMMO storage, it should be more than adequate.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

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