The ceramicartsdaily.org forum recently published 450 spam posts. I agree with the suggestion that new members should be allowed to post online only after a moderator has approved their membership request. Yes, a spam script writer can come up with a statement that sounds like it was written by a potter. But a moderator can always see through it.
If it were my kiln, I would go ahead and fire to cone 6. You don't need to fire it empty unless you are not sure the kiln will reach cone 6. The small broken brick likely does not need maintenance. But you should fix the bulging element so that it doesn't get worse. The kiln should be at least 12" away from the nearest wall. So, you don't need to push the kiln farther away than it already is.