Shots Momâ€™s Son
I read your response to Shots Mom and felt a need to respond from a dispatcherâ€™s perspective. You made some very good points in your message and I do agree that a family should keep up to date on where their son/daughter is during fire season. The best bet would be to track them via web searches or to ask their child to call home more frequently. What I need to disagree with are the following statements you made: â€œfeel free to call dispatch during business hours or call the home unit FMOâ€ and â€œwhat is important is your peace of mind and not whether someone is put out by a 3 minute phone callâ€.
Under your advice, let me tell you what could happen. Take two 20-person crews (at least where I’m from), a 3-minute phone call from each concerned Mom or Dad, and well, you can do the math. Thatâ€™s about 2 hours of time that I donâ€™t have to be reassuring folks that their children are okay. I cannot speak to calling the FMO, but Iâ€™d guess that the same thing applies to them as well. Time spent on non-emergency type phone calls is time taken away from a dispatcher who may be working an initial attack desk, trying to keep their initial attack resource needs met, and trying to manage resources from a safety perspective. (If you have any doubts, try sitting on an initial attack desk for an afternoon during or following a lightning bust.)
We (dispatchers) are more than happy to receive calls of an emergency nature (i.e. there was a firefighter injured on a fire, was it my child or there’s been an emergency at home, please have my child phone home ASAP), but routine calls to find out where the crew has gone next should be avoided. To be honest, once a crew has left the forest or region, it is often difficult for the dispatch office to keep track of their every move as well. Crews get reassigned all the time and weâ€™re only as good as the information we receive from the crew itself. Experience has shown that you cannot rely on reassignment information being sent to the home unit through dispatch channels in a timely manner if at all.
So, to Shots Mom, please keep the inquiry calls to a minimum. If there is an emergency contact that needs to be made, feel free to call us and ask for assistance. And last but not least, please remember that we all do appreciate your care and concern for your child. As Shots Momâ€™s Son stated, knowing that you love and care for your child can make a positive impact on morale and safety. Keep up the support and know that we are all praying for and working towards bringing our firefighters home safely this season.
– I.A. Dispatcherâ€¨â€¨Dispatcher, I agree. Part of the reason for having this familysaid forum is so spouses, moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and partners can more easily follow their firefighters without disrupting the important work of firefighting. As we all know, dispatchers on IA are as important or more important than ICs in getting the fire hooked. (Sometimes they are defacto ICs.) Mellie is compiling a running list of fires on the web to help with making the info-seeking process easier. She could use any help you all want to provide. Maybe there are other things we could do to help with unraveling the maze of the web for those new at the process. Family members and readers, if you have any ideas or tips, please send them in.