Who rescues the rescuers?

Add that to the deluge of questions left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Firefighters and emergency workers in shore towns responded to the storm with long hours - using everything from front-end loaders, boats and their own equipment to put out fires and rescue residents from flooded homes.

The floodwaters have receded, but Sandy is the disaster that keeps on giving.

Emergency vehicles that drove through flooded streets are now paying the price of immersing mechanical equipment in saltwater - rust and damage to electrical systems.

Even when vehicles were moved to higher ground prior to the storm, as the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Company did with its equipment, they were exposed to saltwater corrosion when they were used in post-Sandy rescue operations.

In addition, some emergency workers were displaced by flooding and are still without permanent quarters. But that doesn't mean they're not still responding to fires.

Firefighters are no strangers to MacGyvering - the art of bending existing resources to new uses.

When Ocean City's 29th Street fire station was flooded out, its crews relocated to temporary headquarters in a summer condo across the street. The Brigantine Fire Department is making use of a donated Army surplus truck, refurbished after duty in Iraq and Kuwait.

Some towns have borrowed equipment from neighboring departments and have set up temporary mutual-aid agreements.

Replacing fire and rescue equipment is expensive. There is money available from insurance claims and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but there is still plenty of uncertainty about exactly how much equipment will be paid for.

Some problems may not arise for years. Certainly Sandy has shortened the lifespan of much of the heavy equipment that shore fire departments depend on. This will put pressure on already-taxed municipal budgets and on volunteer companies, which have to raise their own money for equipment.

In Brigantine, Acting Fire Chief Jim Holl said responding to emergencies during Sandy cost the department 50 percent of its firefighting capacity. He told Press staff writer Wallace McKelvey that shore departments are trying to figure out different ways to fight fires during floods. But, as he said, "What are you going to do when you're the guy in charge and you're looking, and here's some house and car on fire?"

So what will the rescuers do? There's only one answer we can be sure of: They will continue to do their jobs.

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