Fireproof safes

I've been disappointed in the fire ratings of household safes I have seen in office supply stores. One $400 safe was effective for only one hour at 1500 degrees. I wonder if there is a better way.
I don't need to keep valuables (I have very few of them) in a safe, just important papers (car titles, military records, etc.) so I was just wondering....
My home has a cinder block wall for a foundation. What if, down in the basement, I chiseled out out a small 1' X 1' section that's below grade, dug into the earth some, and then inserted some kind of steel box in the hole, seal it to the wall and attach a fiberglass-insulated door of some kind. Seems like this would be cheaper and much more effective than any commercial job.
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Unless you live far from the fire house or store flammable chemicals on site, it is not unreasonable that the fire dept can contain a fire at your house in 1 hour.
Placing a fireproof safe in a basement wall may give you additional protection as long as a hot fire does not burn the whole house down and fill the basement with embers, in which case your plan will result in ash.
If fire protection and not protecting valuables is the main concern, place the safe in the front hall closet or a bedroom on the first floor. Places where the fire dept is likely to control a blaze first.
For $400, you can lease a safe deposit box at your bank for a long time.

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46erjoe wrote:

Problem with those safes unless they have changed is sure, the safe itself is fireproof, but what can it do to the internal tempature of a nasty fire? The papers will turn to powder when picked up. Maybe sink the safe into the ground a few feet.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I bought an old house with a large 1899 (yes, 1899) Mohler safe in the basement. When I had the manufacturer rep in to reset the combination, he told me that it was a paper fire safe, and that its proper place was in the basement. He said that basements rarely ever get really badly burned in a house fire, and even if the whole house burned to the ground, the ash and debris would insulate the safe so that the interior temp would never reach a point that would incinerate my papers. Never was quite sure I believed him, but I'm passing his comments along FWTW ---
My safe is wonderful - it looks like something out of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. When I move it's going up on Craig's List because I'm certainly not going to pay to move it!
--
nj_dilettante
in the words of the immortal Sgt Schultz:
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

(snip)
The interior of the safe can remain relatively cool, even during a nasty fire. The walls of the safe generally contain gypsum, and gypsum undergoes calcination somewhere around 180 - 200 degrees (F). The calcination progresses through the gypsum and the temperature doesn't rise much above 212 F ahead of that progression.
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46erjoe wrote:

Office supply stores usually sell "wally class" products. If you really want a higher rating you could get up to a 3 hour rated safe from a commercial safe company.

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46erjoe wrote:

I like the idea. I wonder if there any people in the group who have tried it. The main concern, I would think, would be water: how to stop this from becoming a basement leak, and how to make sure water does not get into it. As far as things like paper, photos, etc. are concerned, water can be just as bad as fire. And fire is not all that likely. So you would have to be pretty darn sure of your work to figure your papers are safer in the hidey hole than in a cheap safe.
When I was a lad I worked for a while in a warehouse, which at some point was completely destroyed by fire. There were some metal filing cabinets in the office and they protected the paper remarkably well, it was just a little singed around the edges. And those were not safes, just well made metal file cabinets. I think one of them had a drawer open though and the paper in that one was destroyed.
--


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46erjoe wrote:

Renting a safe deposit box at your bank could be cheaper and safer.
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Man rented a safe deposit box in a local bank. Someone at the bank went through his papers, so I've always been leery of a safe which is controlled by someone else.
Bob
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RobertM:

Sounds like a tall tale.
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Sure does, 'specially when two keys are required to get into the box - one kept by the customer, and the other kept at the bank. They're usually different sizes too, so one won't work in the other.
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My guess is the OP left off the part about "after receiving the subpoena" (g).
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

You could be right about that, but was not the OP who made the comment..
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wrote:

For the money, you would be better served by having the documents placed on CD/DVD and distributed - 1) onsite safe, 2) bank safe deposit, and 3) trusted person of choice.
A 1' X 1' indicates few documents or not a vast amount. They have floor safes, so I'm not sure your "steel box" would be the best option.
Oren
"My doctor says I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber, and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."
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46erjoe wrote:

You could also check at your local gun shop. They will sell safes and may have different fire ratings. Doesn't hurt to go and browse and ask a few questions.
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wrote:

With safes, you generally get what you pay for. $400 is at the low end. Pay a lot more and you get better protection.

Sounds like you're talking about a floor safe. The good: as you've surmised, more economical than a free-standing model, and less prone to fire damage. The bad: succeptible to liquid infiltration. Leaky water heater, burst washer hose, overflowing toilet, spilled can of paint or other household product, etc. can flood the container and ruin the contents. I agree with other posters that your best bet would be a small safe-deposit box at your local bank.
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