Canadian Rental Service

A flood of profits

By Richard Adler   

Features Tech tips

Flood barriers can be a unique and lucrative addition to your rental fleet.

Water inflatable flood barriers are essentially huge bags that can be filled with water to create a waterproof barrier anywhere. They can be as large as six feet high and 100 feet long. All Photos: Rapid Barrier Systems

Water inflatable barriers for flood protection, water diversion and storage and coffer dams are now readily available in the Canadian market. Due to the high number of contractors requesting to rent barriers for coffer dam construction, some Canadian manufacturers have decided to work with rental companies to supply contractors and homeowners with water inflatable barriers. 

Flood barrier systems are most easily described as huge, watertight bags made of an extremely durable PVC-based material. They come in a variety of sizes ranging up to six feet in height and 100 feet in length. The largest standard barrier can hold over 180,000 liters of water, essentially using water to hold back or divert water. Several different kinds of barriers are on the market, including kits for low-level flooding; inflatable barriers from 12 inches in height up to 100-foot lengths and 24- and 48-inch heights up to 50 feet long; and “premium” barriers which include an attached apron. Premium barriers are available in 8-, 30-, 72- and 48-inch heights. Rapid Barrier Systems, a flood barrier provider in B.C., has developed systems over more than a decade.

So, what is the opportunity for rental stores?

Let’s face it, flood and coffer dam barriers are not cheap, and most homeowners cannot afford to surround their homes with 250 feet or more of barriers. Contractors looking at inflatable barriers are facing purchases equal to thousands of dollars for each jobsite. Equipment rental companies have storage facilities; a crew to clean, inspect and repair the barriers; local distribution; and name recognition. They can profitably offer customers the products their client needs, be it flood protection or coffer dam construction. Often, when an inflatable barrier is needed, pumps and their accessories provide an additional source of revenue. 


There is some learning curve to providing flood barriers and educating customers in their use, so look for a supplier that can provide technical expertise and offers a range of barrier choices, fast shipping of in-stock material, direct advice to the rental clients and, importantly, referrals.

As climate change makes flooding more frequent, more and more homeowners will be looking for ways to protect their property against rising water.

Good flood barrier products are suitable for use multiple times and, due to their heavy-duty material composition, will last for many years: estimates range from 15 to 20. Given sufficient lead time, flood barrier manufacturers can produce custom versions fabricated from ”super-heavy duty” material to further reduce damage by abrasion or puncture. In most cases, repairs to flood barriers are easily made.

Flood barrier suppliers are usually willing to provide water-inflatable barriers to rental stores at discounted prices with a warranty of two years. Look for a supplier that can provide emergency shipping in case your area suddenly has severe flooding and demand skyrockets. Reputable flood barrier providers will provide referrals and help promote their rental clients with website listings of contracted users.

Flood barriers present a great opportunity for rental companies to expand their market reach and work with new customers. Climate change is bringing more frequent severe flooding. Governments require contractors to be diligent in how they protect their construction jobsites. Working with an established flood barrier provider to exploit these opportunities can open the floodgates for a rush of new revenue. 

Richard Adler is president of Rapid Barrier Systems. Online at

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