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May I make a suggestion.
If it were mine, I would drill a couple of holes in the offending bricks, insert a couple of 'dynabolts' (or even wall plugs with large headed screws), knock the bricks with a hammer and lift them out. If needed, because they are packed in really tight, I would also include a metal or wooden strip between the bolts/screws and use a jemmy/small crow bar to prise them up. Hitting the adjoining bricks will also help relieve them from their surrounds.
Smashing then will only damage adjoining bricks and maybe make them tighter.
In desperation, you might use a diamond saw on a small angle grinder and cut the offending bricks close to two edges, collapse the cut piece and lever out.
Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!
The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know
I am having the same problem - looking to replace most of the floor. Does anyone know why this happens ? Also , I am not sure my bricks were proper fire bricks, dont seem to hold heat to well. The dome also has quite a bit of spalling. do you think the dome can be sort of skim coated to prevent future deterioration ? If so , what should I use.
I've pulled bricks a few times, using a couple of long drywall screws as picks (any thin, hard, pointy metal will do). Near the middle of the brick to remove, work the points in on opposite sides. Then push the picks outward; if you balance the inward force of the picks, the brick will be levered up. Reset the picks one at a time (so the brick doesn't drop), and repeat until you can grab it with your fingertips. It takes a couple of minutes the first time, but it gets quicker.