MAJOR concerns have been raised over outdated fire alarm systems and fire safety measures at several care homes in Caerphilly county borough.

Alarm systems at six residential properties are around 15 years old with upgrades planned over the next three years.

The homes affected include Beatrice Webb in Blackwood, Min-y-Mynydd in Rhymney, Brodawel and Castle View in Caerphilly and Ty Clyd in Bargoed.

Fire risk assessments have also flagged up “major concerns” with compartmentation at the properties which would compromise evacuation.

The local authority has been recommended to fast track the works, which could cost £120,000, “as a matter of urgency” according to a report.

Compartmentation aims to prevent the spread of fire and smoke by subdividing buildings into manageable areas of risk.

Measures include suspended ceilings, a secondary ceiling fitted below the main ceiling structure which provides extra fire resistance.

But the report, which will be considered by cabinet members on October 17, says that “a number of areas above suspended ceilings require improvement”.

A full upgrade of the alarm system, and work to improve compartmentation measures, has been requested by Dave Street, the corporate director of social services and housing.

Councillor Carl Cuss, cabinet member for social services said: “Our residential care facilities are home to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, so it is imperative that we ensure all appropriate health and safety systems are up to date.”

“Recent risk assessments identified concerns including ageing fire alarm systems at six of our sites, so the cabinet has been asked to provide appropriate funding to upgrade these facilities and carry out associated fire safety works as a matter of urgency.”

Cabinet are also being asked to consider spending £50,000 to remove asbestos and install essential lighting at Ty Iscoed care home in Newbridge.

Funding for both schemes is expected to come from the social services capital budget for the 2018/19 financial year.

The report also reveals that the council had recently undertaken a tender exercise for fire alarms maintenance within all council-owned public buildings – but fire safety improvement works were not part of the arrangement.

A council spokesman said: "Works in respect of the fire regulations have been completed at all six homes.

"The upgrade of the fire alarm systems is in progress, however it is important to stress that the current systems are serviced and maintained to ensure continued fire protection throughout the homes while the upgrades take place."