There are only a couple of ways that come to mind so you can get to know your local firefighters. The easiest is to bake them something, stop by their station, hang out, maybe run a hot bath with salts and offer up full rub downs afterwards. Then there much more terrifying method which is to have your chimney catch on fire.
It’s an interesting experience when preparing the evening libation at the farmhouse to hear what suddenly sounds like a jet engine. Being near a local airport it’s easy to think, “Shucks, that jet is really passing overhead quite close but good riddance Stag Party!” Then, it doesn’t go away and it just gets louder and then you notice that molten chunks of something are falling in to the fireplace.
Calling the emergency number, the firefighters (literally called, “bombers” or “the pumpers” in Catalan), an ambulance, and the police all showed up. Apparently it was a slow night. I can only hope they used it as an excuse to go get donuts afterwards as by the time they arrived, I had already put out the main fire with a garden hose. As it turns out, the chimney was constructed correctly and what I thought were molten chunks of it coming down were just in fact molten chunks of creosote and soot that were near the base as it never occurred to anyone that cleaning it might be one of those ideas classified as “genius”.
That said, the fireplace is out of order until further notice which leaves the balls-to-the-wall heater system seen above. Essentially this is a gas tank set in to the back of a heating element. If it looks like something that Wile E. Coyote would use to catch that pesky roadrunner, you’re right although I have yet to see an Acme model in heavy use anywhere.
These heaters seem like the most insanely unsafe thing in the world next to an open flame in the floor. Of course, they happen to work quite well, are really efficient, and are relatively cheap at about 100€ for the heater and 20€ or so for each tank that lasts about 3-4 weeks depending on use.
All quite crucial these days as Fall was essentially non-existent and we’re plunging down to 0C with that lovely tramuntana gusting to 100kph and beyond these days. Good times, to stay indoors, warmed by the glow of the portable bomb.