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Manchester Bomb - Phil Murphy

Published on June 20th 2005.

I've just finished 12 years in the fire service. I was in the back of a fire engine on the corner of St Marys Gate and Deansgate, turning the corner on our way to the Ramada Hotel (automatic fire alarm activation).

We didn't even know it was a bomb alert and where the device was, good job we took the route we did from Moss Side fire station. Afterwards they changed the procedure so now they tell people if there's a known bomb threat nearby when they're driving to any place. Honestly, we had no idea where the explosive was then suddenly - boom, then the skies started to rain glass. We'd guessed it was a bomb alert with all the tape on the roads enroute - the streets were deserted, but we had no idea how close we were to it.

Come to think of it I was probably the closest person to the biggest terrorist explosion on mainland UK! It was a bloody hard day's work, we were grafting solid until about 7pm (rather than 6pm) because we were mobilised to a house fire in moss side on the way back, and they moaned about giving us the overtime. The first thing I did after the explosion was pick up the security guard that was stood outside the Ramada Hotel. I'd watched him get blown clean off his feet onto the front bonnet of a large 4x4 outside the hotel's main entrance.

He was semiconscious and concussed but essentially he'd be ok, so I gave him to a couple of bobbies to take to the paramedics. Then I went extinguishing some small fires in the arndale, debris was blown onto the upper (openair) car park level, that set fire to the tarmac and it was dripping through holes into various shops. Then we had to find and search the flats up there (that's what we said - "Who'd put flats up there?" LOL). The day went on and on.

I went back to our pump near the remada in the afternoon and the ramada staff gave us a drink of juice, I saw Gascoigne score that goal against scotland on the TV in the foyet, then went back to more work and searching and such; what a surreal experience that was. I was never debriefed so never really put my side of the story to the fire service but they gave me a commendation anyway.

Amyway, I quit the fire brigade this year to open a unique adult lifestyle store in an out-of-the-way spot in Central Manchester where we (my girlfriend and I) sell erotic art, clothes in latex, PVC and leather, dungeon equipment, SM toys, a variety of interesting books, and one or two items that you probably won't see on sale anywhere else in the UK. There are a hell of a lot of kinky people out there, in fact I do believe it's becoming fashionable!

Phil Murphy

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