Well, after 15 years I finally was able to get a home that included a wood fireplace, one of our "must haves". That being said, the two fireplaces in the home need some maintenance and I've always wondered about the bricks used for the firebox. I have several that need replaced. Now with ignorant question #1, are the firebox bricks a structural load-bearing component of the chimney? If I remove several of them, am I compromising the structure? I have had the chimneys inspected and was told that all was good with the exception of the maintenance on the firebox and eventually the flashing at the roof will need to be replaced. I will post some pics when I get home today but was curious on the structural part. The house was built in 1950 if that helps date the construction method. I will be hiring a chimney sweep to clean the flues but I was going to attempt the brick repair myself. I'm sure that I am not asking all the right questions right now but I'm learning as I go. Any advice is greatly appreciated!