When it comes to following or “spying” on loved ones, I’ve had quite a bit of experience. I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of tools at my disposal because of my position in fire, but there is a lot of information out there for the public also.
Visit the National Interagency Coordination Center tour site for a general overview of how dispatch works, and how your son on a crew in Idaho can go to a fire in Nevada.
You’ll see on the page that the United States is grouped into 11 Geographic Area Coordination Centers (or GACCs). GACCs are the regional hub of all activity in their area — the dispatch centers below them with actual activity run any resource needs through the GACC, which then sends them on to the National Coordination Center, who passes them on to other GACCs as needed to fill specific resources, ie crews, equipment, aircraft and other single resources.
Nevada is in the Western Great Basin GACC. You can visit that web page here. From there, if you explore the intelligence or news and notes sections, you can find out information about fires in the region and fires he may be on. If you know the specific name of his crew, you can look for him on the West Basin Daily Briefing. If he’s on an engine, it’s not quite so easy to find him, as most GACCs don’t post that information, as there can be many, many engines in region at a time.
Once you find out what fire he is on, you can access the National Incident Management Situation Report for information on large fires across the country. Your son could possibly not be on one of these large fires, and if so they won’t be listed on the sit report (only fires 100 acres in timber or 300 acres in grass/brush are reported on the Sit). If that’s the case, it’s pretty hard to find him – but knowing the general activity level from using any of the sources on the websites can give you an idea what he might be up to.
Different GACCs have different products available. If your son gets dispatched to a different GACC, you can visit all the GACCs web pages from this page by clicking on whatever area you are interested in. The best advice I can give you is to become familiar with the websites and the different things they have available – for example, some (most, now) GACCs offer links to pages devoted to large fires that are run by the teams running the fires. Those sites often have exhaustive information on what the fire is doing, where the fire is (often including maps), and even pictures of the fire — it’s always fun to peruse them and find a picture of your honey (or son/daughter/niece/father/mother/etc.) on the fireline doing what they love.
I know this is a lot of info — I sometimes get a little carried away when it comes to dispatching, but it’s my world in the summers (and often the winters) and I love it. If you have any specific questions, I’m sure Ab could pass them along to me.
– How is everyone else doing? Any word from the firelines? My honey is still in Colorado, initial attacking fires everyday. He’s soooo happy, and I’m a little jealous…