Oh I am sure you know just as much about fire as your man does.
it wont take long for the coal to start burning and glowing red if the wood starter fire is roaring.
the bigest mistake early coal folks sometimes make is that of having the fire choke out from lack of air thru the coal. now this is 6-12 hours from now,after the full burning coal bed is already estabilished.
add coal after the previous addition is burning, continue till a full even burn is going, then load it up to the top of the fire brick. coal does best when its a deep bed.