WEST Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority has appointed an interim new chief executive to oversee the running of the fire service following the sad death of chief fire officer Wayne Brown.

Oliver Lee OBE has been appointed as CEO for a period of up to 12 months.

Birmingham born and bred Mr Lee served for 18 years in the Royal Marines before working in a number of executive level roles.

Greg Brackenridge, chairperson of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “My fellow authority members and I are aware that this is a bittersweet occasion for us all, as we welcome a new chief executive officer having so recently said goodbye to chief fire officer Wayne Brown under such tragic circumstances.

“We were pleased to receive applications from a number of strong candidates, from both within the fire sector and further afield. The Appointments Committee were very impressed by Oliver’s extensive experience, strategic understanding, leadership and personal values, and people-focused approach.

“It isn’t possible to replace any individual, least of all someone like Wayne, but we are confident that Oliver will ensure the service continues to deliver outstanding services to the people of the West Midlands.”

Mr Lee was awarded the MBE and later OBE for his leadership in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

His distinguished armed forces career culminated in his appointment as the Marines’ youngest full Colonel since the Second World War, serving as Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group from 2009-2012.

Since leaving the forces in 2014, he has worked in a number of strategic executive-level roles in the private and third sector - most recently as CEO of Places Leisure.

The fire service said Mr Lee will take up the new role as soon as all necessary background checks are completed. A handover process with deputy chief fire officer Jo Bowcock will then get underway.