My bureau has recently been provided with a city charter and the plans to develop the colonial territory of Endrast into an urban center befitting the dwarven people, but after reviewing the documents I am concerned by the possibility of suffocation.
Mr Grin, the lead architect on this project, has assured me that the subterranean city he envisions will be adequately ventilated by a novel (by which I understand he means 'untested') technique of his own design. I disagree. Alas, for reasons ostensibly of national security (but more honestly of bureaucratic red tape), I am forbidden from submitting the blueprints themselves for your review, but I shall attempt to summarize his plan as best I can.
He proposes, essentially, that from the walls and floors of the city should be carved a network of ventilation shafts converging on an isolated cavern wherein enormous fires shall burn at all times. Above these fires would be great chimneys cut to the open air at the mountain's peak. The premise is: the fire would draw from the city a constant stream of air, which in turn would draw fresh airflow from the surface downward into the city.
As I say, Mr Grin assures me this will provide the citizens of Endrast a constant supply of fresh, clean air. I remain unconvinced. All prior experience has led me to understand that burning a fire in an underground dwelling is an excellent way of suffocating everyone inside. I have never heard of it improving the flow of breathable oxygen.
Furthermore, these fires would surely burn only as long as there was a sufficient surplus of oxygen being drawn from the tunnels. In other words, the vacuum would need to be strong enough to draw enough air from the surface to exceed the city's need for fresh oxygen by a broad enough margin to fuel the fires by which the vacuum was generated. Is that even possible?
In short, I have come to ask: has our architect lost his mind, or am I mistaken? Could this principle actually work? If not, is there any way it might be salvaged? I must be absolutely sure of this - the last thing my bureau needs is another Inbad Incident.