If your profile is accurate you should have enough experience to qualify. The hours are long, on duty about 14 hr/day with 8 hr flight time max. one day off per week at whatever location your aircraft is. Away from home months at a time. If this is what you want now is the time to apply for the upcoming season.
Avbug can fill you in on the rest.
Flying tankers can be both interesting and boring; you might work your tail off on a fire for days is a row and then sit for days in a row. It would be advantageous to have prior large time in recips or turbine depending on the operators aircraft. Also having an A&P would greatly increase your chances of getting hired. When your pager goes off you may not get back to your home base for days or weeks. Be prepared to do maintenance and cleaning on your aircraft. There are some reputable outfits and some fly-by-nighters. Good luck.
I had some friends in the Caribbean that did this. They worked for the Canadian Forest Service (or whatever) and worked something like 6-7 months a year and were off the rest of the time, thus they spent their free time on a boat in the Islands. It was a husband and wife that were both captians, so I guess that's how they could afford the lifestyle. They said they wouldn't fly for any other type of mission because it fit their lifestyle so well. I don't know how well it would work with family and all.
I know this doesn't really answer any questions but my .02.
I'll get to your question on private mail as soon as possible. I just got back in town and have been up for a day and and a half. I need sleep.
There are no jobs this year; a few possibilities will arise when people get sick, quit, or killed, but you'll have to be standing there waiting for the call when it comes, in front of the chief pilot's desk. If any slots come open for the remainder of the year, it will probably only amount to two or three at the most, nationwide.
Someone mentioned pagers. There are no pagers, and you're not on call. You're there with the airplane, waiting. Anywhere, any time. You have five minutes notice to be airborne, fifteen if you need to load. You may be gone a week, or ten months or a year. No telling.
There is no training program out there. There is no prior experience that will effectively prepare you for tanker work. (Firebombing is a media term; it's tanker work). The most valueable experience you could get would be aerial application (crop dusting). Radial experience can be helpful, but isn't necessary.
Plan on being a copilot for 5-10 years, depending on the airplane, the contractor, the conditions, you, etc. Plan on flying 100-200 hours a year, and being gone from 5-10 months at a time. Plan on a starting salary around 30,000-40,000, and a high end captain salary around 70,000. Plan on getting dirty a lot, working a lot. Plan on being ineligible for life insurance.
A maintenance background is a plus. Most tanker pilots are mechanics. Many tanker pilots work for their company as a mechanic after the season ends. Others don't. Some take time off, others fly charter, a few even fly for airlines when not doing tanker work. Many are ag pilots.
It's high risk work. I'll PM you more on that when I get a chance.
A poster mentioneed that tanker pilots didn't carry pagers. The company I flew for in the early 90s issued pagers, we used them when the fire risk was very low so we could engage in other activites as long as we could launch in a reasonable time.