I go fishing for clinkers with a hook I made every day(V shaped fire box)But the worst thing I did was to hook up the coal smoke pipe with my oil furnace.BUT I clean the smoke pipe every month.Few screws here and a few screws there and it's down. DON
I also pook and stir my fire. My stove is a small round stove that tends to bridge easily, so I shake it down some and let it get good and hot, then I start poking it down and sort of turn and pull the poker to loosen it up. It seems to work good for my stove, but I know you can literally poke the fire out if your not careful. I've come close a time or two. I also use match light charcoal to great success, for both starting a fire and recovering from a too low fire. Wife swears by it. She can have a fire going in half an hour with a couple of shovels of M L and some news print. As she puts it four balls of paper and 21 (not 20 or 22, but 21) M L briquetts and as soon as its going good start sprikeling pea coal. Hell, don;t know why I even tend the stove.
Always 21 briquettes, eh? I can be a bit like that myself. I might pretend not to count them, but I would cheat. She should try 19 one day, just force herself, no matter how scary it feels.... There will be such a feeling of freedom afterwards! Well, not really, because she will subconsciously adjust the amount of paper and coal a little bit to compensate.... There's no escape! Aaaaarrrrrrrgghhh!