When the Herald snapped firefighter James Miles taking a long swig of water outside the NZ International Convention Centre, he had just come from the heat of the battle.

Miles and a colleague from the Birkenhead 821 crew had climbed to the top floor in full protective gear and breathing apparatus to fight the blaze from inside the building yesterday.

They could barely see, the area was heavily smoke-logged and there was very little oxygen.

When he emerged - around 1-2pm on Wednesday - Miles was sweating and feeling "pretty disgusting - very thirsty and very hot ... you come out after an hour pretty knackered".


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That's the moment Herald photographer Jason Oxenham captured him on a telephoto lens, which made its way to the paper's front page on Thursday with the headline "Heroes beat the heat".

Miles is based at Birkenhead station on Auckland's North Shore. His crew had been at the convention centre from 7am-7pm on Wednesday and from about 8am-5pm today. He expects to be back on the job from 5pm Friday, even if it's just to clean up.

Despite being a full-time professional firefighter Miles manages to fit in a second job - he's also pouring his energies into a fledgling honey-making business.

He and business partner Francis Morton-Jones set up their honey business F&J NZ six years ago, starting out keeping bees in Miles' grandparents' backyard in Arkles Bay with the aim of making mead from the honey.

The venture bloomed, expanding to about 300 hives. They've now downscaled to about 30 hives "for fun" and source their honey from local beekeepers.

They've just created a new range of honeys infused with flavour - ginger, matcha, rose, mango and cacao - which are used in high-end restaurants and cocktail bars.

And they're about to hit the big time, having just signed up with Foodstuffs to stock their new Nectavia range in supermarkets.


The Herald front page was the second time in a week Miles' has been in the news - he featured in the local Hibiscus Coast paper earlier this week.

If you can’t get a hold of James, it because he’s busy saving Auckland from burning @afterart.nz #nzherald #fandjnz #afterartnz #nzfireservice

Posted by F & J New Zealand on Wednesday, 23 October 2019