Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) operations are those where food and lodging is provided for employees at their work site, e.g. mining operations, offshore platforms, FPSO, support vessels and remote construction sites.
Fly In Fly Out operations require that workers live at their work site for the period of their work roster and return home, or elsewhere offsite, for their Rest & Recreation (R&R).
Work and R&R periods differ from company to company and can depend on the distance from the company’s point of operating origin to their remote location site. For example an Australian company sending workers to a Vessel in the Gulf of Mexico may stipulate a month on month off period, due to the time and cost of getting a FIFO worker to site. Some other typical roster periods for closer sites could be could be 10 days on 4 days off, 3 weeks on 1 week off commonly referred to in the industry as 10 on 4 off, 3 on 1 off, respectively.
Working this way enables employees the luxury of living with their partners, friends and families in the areas they prefer and to send their children to the schools of their choice. FIFO working operations negate the need for companies, governments and communities to create small unsustainable towns for limited project life and/or in difficult to service remote locations.
A lot of FIFO workers often spend their R&R period visiting other countries during their time off, instead of returning to their country of origin, taking advantage of this transient working lifestyle.
The Fly In Fly Out lifestyle creates a tight-knit, loyal community spread across a wide geographic area, with a unique set of attributes, issues and concerns.
According to a CMEWA Report 2005, FIFO had its origins during the late 1940s in the offshore oil sector in the Gulf of Mexico, and has been further developed by the offshore oil industry around the world. There has been rapid growth in FIFO operations since the late 1970’s, driven largely by the expansion of the offshore oil industry due to rising oil prices and exploration imperatives.
There were an estimated 60,000 FIFO workers in the North Sea in the late 1980s.
The first modern FIFO operation was in Canada, a country whose geographical dispersion of resource deposits and population [hubs], are in some ways similar to that of Australia. The last new residential mining town constructed in Canada was Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia in the late 1970s, while the last mining town constructed in Australia was Olympic Dam, South Australia in the mid 1980s (CMEWA, January 2005)