'e' is erase firmware. There's a bit of an interlock that protects it, but I'd still stay away from that one...
It's been a while since I looked at Dave's work, so I'm not sure how complete it is, but yes, a "query status" command does exist and it returns exactly the same one-byte status as you (or he) may have observed in the status file. 's' is the command byte for it. One day we may publish an API, but right now too much is in flux to be able to support it, so I'd be happy to help the community informally as much as time allows through platforms like this.