I have found that, if someone is home to check the fire every so often & sprinkle a little fresh coal on top of graying coals, that it'll make your life allot easier in terms of keeping your fire going all winter. Regularly adding fresh coal will avoid having to save an almost dead fire, many times. (No need to shake down or poke or do anything!...... just lightly sprinkle a shovel or 2 of fresh coal across the top, close the load door & walk away)
It will literally take 30 seconds to do, a few times a day....Perfect for a wife to do until you get home.