Donation

Actress Emmanuelle Chriqui and LA County Capt. Pat Sprengel unveil a truck full of new mattresses donated by the Westin Hotels to the firefighters of LA County Fire Camp 2 on Monday, April 15, 2013. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / April 15, 2013)

After a morning hike in the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County firefighters who work at Fire Camp 2 returned to their La Cañada Flintridge station, prepared to start an ordinary Monday.

But when they filed out of a fire truck, they found a surprise: A Westin Hotels & Resort truck, stocked full of mattresses.

They were shocked and confused at first. None of them had expected the donation. But the men cheered and whistled once they realized what was happening.

John Paul Hilsabeck, 24, said he sleeps at the station two to three nights a week. Like many of his colleagues, he has a long commute. Hilsabeck lives in Anaheim.

There are 29 beds, one for each man. But the mattresses in the firehouse were old and hard.

"It makes a big difference," said Hilsabeck. "Sleep is everything. Most of the guys here spend a couple of nights a week here."

The surprise was part of a Westin campaign to help firefighters, teachers, nurses and other groups of people who work long hours. The campaign also promotes weekend specials at the luxury hotel chain.

"We really focus on the well being of our guests and understand than when you work really hard, you need the chance to recharge," Paula Gomprecht, a Westin brand manager, told the firefighters at the station. "We really wanted to do something special for you guys, because we understand that you guys work really hard, work really hard days, really hard nights and even longer weekends."

"Entourage" actress Emmanuelle Chriqui presented the mattresses, including two for Kona and TJ, dogs who live at the station. She said it was her first time visiting a firehouse. "I'm sure that many ladies are envious of me.

"You are often the unsung heroes and we wanted to thank you for all that you do," she said.

The firefighters at the fire camps, who help to suppress wildlife fires in the nearby forest, are often overlooked, said Jon O'Brien, a Los Angeles County Fire Department battalion chief.

"The guys in the fire stations wind up getting all the gratitude and credit from the public," said O'Brien. "It was nice to be able to direct something in their direction."

Firefighters like Grant Tretheway, 29, appreciated the gesture. Tretheway, who lives 70 miles away in Wildomar, said he sleeps at the station four to seven nights a week.

"I sleep here almost every night," he said. "A lot more than I do at home."

The old mattresses, he said, were stiff and uncomfortable. "It's basically like sleeping on concrete."

But with the new mattresses, he said he hopes he will get more rest. "Maybe I'll get a good sleep one of these nights."

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