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Antique Safes/Shaw Walker Safe

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Question
Hello Terry,

I read a prior Q&A you answered regarding a Shaw-Walker Safe am looking for fire proof details for our Shaw-Walker. Unfortunately, I see no rating letter, however, what I can tell you is below the Shaw-Walker stamp there is a worn out sticker that begins with AK on the first line, Master on the 2nd line and Tel. on the 3rd line. The lock is a Yale lock and on the inside of the door behind the lock is a 4 digit number. Are these safes traditionally fire proof or do you need additional information to determine?

Answer
Hi Carolyn,

First lets start off with "terminology".    There is no such thing as "FIRE Proof"!    Safes are rated in Fire or Heat "RESISTANCE", based on their ability to keep heat out of the container.   They are rated by temperature and time, based on standard testing procedures used by either UL or the Safe Manufacturers National Association (SMNA).    Note:   SMNA has been defunct since about 1962-64ish.

Fire or heat resistance is defined as keeping the interior of the safe or container, below 350 degrees F. for the period of the testing, generally in 1/2 hr, 1 hr, 2 hr or 4 hr tests.    The reason for this standard is that "paper type products" will char around 412 degrees F and combust around 451 degrees F.   By keeping the interior temperature below 350 degrees F, the paper will survive a fire.

While your safe may be insulated and/or provide some degree of heat resistance, IF it is NOT labeled, then for all practical purposes it is NOT fire resistive.

Also, safes OVER 50 years old (which would be prior to 1967 at this point, are NOT considered to meet any standards.   As containers get older, insulation gets cracked and degrades allowing heat to enter the container.    There is no way to reinsulate the container to recover a fire rating.    Older safes should NOT be used for overnight storage of ANY valuable documents or items which are not easily replaced.

This should answer your question about your safe.   If it is over 50 years old and/or if it is not specifically labeled by UL to be fire resistive, then it is NOT!

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

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

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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