The man in charge of West Midlands firefighters was forced to resign after he was arrested on suspicion of making indecent images of children.

West Midlands Police arrested Frank Sheehan, aged 55, on Tuesday at his home in Sutton Coldfield.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police confirmed: “A 55-year-old man was arrested yesterday at an address in Sutton Coldfield. He was arrested on suspicion of making indecent images of children. He has been bailed pending further inquiries.”

Fire crews across Birmingham were told about the shock departure of Mr Sheehan this morning. He spent his entire career with the West Midlands service and lives in Sutton Coldfield with his wife and daughter and has been the fire service boss since 2003.

He started as a firefighter in the West Midlands in 1975 and rose through the ranks.

West Midlands Fire Service would not release any information about his departure.

The chairman of the fire authority released a written statement and was not available for further comment. Coun Peter Howard said: “Frank Sheehan has resigned from his post, for personal reasons, as chief fire officer for West Midlands Fire Service with immediate effect.

“The deputy chief fire officer, Vij Randeniya, will be acting in the role of chief fire officer.   The authority has every confidence in the corporate board and the staff of West Midlands Fire Service who will continue to serve the communities of the West Midlands.”

One Birmingham firefighter, who did not wish to be named, said: “We had no idea this was coming, it’s as much a surprise to us as it is to everybody else. There has been no talk of this.”

He was awarded a CBE earlier this year and is also a holder of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM) for services to community fire safety.