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Ripon Rotarians get educated on safes

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POSTED July 4, 2017 10:03 p.m.

Ripon Rotarians were surprised to learn at their noon meeting at Spring Creek Country Club last Wednesday, June 28 that the Tractor Supply Co. – with a store on Jack Tone Road – is the nation’s largest retailer of safes in the nation, according to Rotarian Ken Brown with 25 years tenure in the industry.

He said when he started in the business, most valuables were kept in wooden safes that finally evolved into steel cases that were more difficult to open for burglars. Any safe, whether bought at Costco or Tractor Supply, is a worthy investment, even at the lowest $499 level, he said.

The more expensive safes run up to $3,000 and more, he added. 

“The more you pay, the more you get,” Brown told the group referring to the American Security Company that has been in business for 65 years based in Southern California.  He noted that they have long serviced grocery store chains, Apple, Verizon, and drug stores with their pharmacy safes, gun safes and jewelry store safes.

He said it takes three ‘Ts’ to break into any safe in a home or business: time, tools and talent.

“You can give me a pile of tools and it doesn’t mean that I can get into it,” he said.  “The average burglar doesn’t have the time, tools or talent to get into a safe before a five to seven minute police or fire response.  But if you don’t have a safe, you don’t slow down the robber.  I feel if you have nothing at home, any safe is a great investment for the unsecured gun and papers,” he added. 

Fire-safe safes – 99 percent of them – have insulation of only sheet rock to keep the temperature below the paper charring 350 degrees over 12 minutes, he explained, but the more expensive American Security safes are the only ones using a concrete mixture between the steel inner and outer layers of the safe’s walls.

Asked about water damage during a fire, Brown said it is difficult to make a safe totally waterproof because of the service lines that are required to operate the 4,000 to 5,000 pound safes, adding that water seldom penetrates the exteriors and gets past the rubber seals.  He said he was at a friend’s home following a recent fire and there was no water inside their safe.

He also displayed pictures of a large, standalone gun safe where the home had completely burned to the ground around the safe and the guns had not been harmed by the fire and the safe sustained little damage, he said. 

The sheet rock insulation  installed in most safes will produce some water vapor during a fire, he noted, unlike the concrete insulation. 

For added security, bolt the safe down or even go under the home or business if it has a crawl space and anchor it down, he advised, to prevent it being rolled out on a dolly. 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email 




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