SHOULD you spy a chap in a button-up coat and large-brimmed hat loitering at the end of your street on any foggy night soon, please, display no alarm or despondency.
Even as this person, at regular intervals, flashes a large metal torch and surreptitiously checks his wristwatch.
As we say, do not call the police because, in a manner of speaking, this person is himself part of a force.
A member of the smoke police, no less.
For where there is smoke there is official ire and this fellow's task is to stride purposefully around the suburbs of an evening watching and waiting for householders to light a fire.
His mission is then to ensure that any subsequent grate blaze does not allow smoke to issue from a chimney for more than 10 minutes.
Nine minutes, 59 seconds? Fine, rub your hands together before the comforting blaze and enjoy the flame-driven warmth.
Ten minutes, or more? Sorry, that'll set you back $1300, ker-chung and thanks very much.
That's after a visit from an environmental officer who will, according to a media report ``instruct them (that's you the smoke-wreathed homeowner) to modify either their heater or chimney within 21 days''.
And then, after something ominously termed ``education and informal warnings'' a heavy-booted (and possibly fuming) smoke inspector will kick in your door and hit you with a 1300-buck fine.
Apparently all this is part of a state government move to control woodheater emissions.
That's right, the same state government that has jacked up electricity prices by so much that many householders are going back to chopping wood to heat the home.
We recall the 2002 federal government's $2.05 million Launceston Woodheater Replacement Programme with warnings that so-called ``serial woodsmoke offenders'' would be fined up to $60,000 for too much chimney smoke.
Woodsmoke inspectors patrolled Lonnie streets at night seeking ``more-than-usual amounts'' of billowing chimney smoke signalling over-enthusiastic poker wielding, incorrect fuel or bad flues.
A report of the time pointed out that: ``When officers first notice a smoky chimney or flue, an education pack will be left for the householder.''
Should the elderly householders not have gone smokeless within the obligatory 10 minutes, (or perhaps used the kit to start a fire), officers were empowered to rap on the door and hand the quaking residents an on-the-spot $100 fine.
The news saw the usual chorus of civil liberties' do-gooders concerned at the social effects of such a policy, including allegations the nocturnal door knocks ``bordered on fascism''.
Meanwhile, we wonder how long it will be before the first chronologically challenged person who is unwilling, or unable, to pay the latest $1300 fines, find themselves in the slammer.
There will surely come a time when the citizen will only have to observe the level of sky clarity to calculate how many pensioners have been arrested the previous evening, and their fires doused by the grate Gestapo.
Perhaps these recalcitrant OAP's could undertake community service including mixing cement, laying bricks and positioning the heavy cast-iron boxes required for efficient woodheaters.
The Launceston City Council should re-examine a one-time agenda item calling for so-called ``don't light days''.
This would involve no domestic fires being lit at all for several nominated days a week.
Were a system of ``don't light days'' adopted, could we suggest the council hire a light aircraft to undertake aerial spotting to ensure the bylaw is being complied with and drop water bombs down miscreants' chimneys?
Granted, it would be unfortunate should aerial spotters drop a water bomb only to later learn that the target was a smoke officer loitering on a street corner enjoying a quiet ciggie to pass the time.