Con­cerns over old fire alarms at care homes

South Wales Echo - - News - NIALL GRIF­FITHS Re­porter echo.news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

MA­JOR con­cerns have been raised over outdated fire alarm sys­tems and fire safety mea­sures at sev­eral care homes in Caer­philly county bor­ough.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

SI­MON GREENER

East 17 will be in Cardiff in De­cem­ber

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