Elżbieta Nemś, a deputy technical manager at the Thermal Power Engineering Company in Zabrze (ZPEC), has worked in the company for 40 years. She is the graduate of the Lublin University of Technology, a wife, a mother, a former basketball player and a fan of handball. She is a woman of charisma also involved in social actions.
– Destiny may bring you in various places – notices Elżbieta Nemś. – My husband comes from Zabrze, his family roots are from the area of Lublin, where I come from and where we met many years ago. After accomplishing her studies Elżbieta got married and moved to Silesia. She settled down there due to her love to her husband and became emotionally involved in her job at the company she has worked for four decades. I have worked all my life in ZPEC starting the 5th October 1976. It has been my first job and probably the last one – the director smiles with nostalgia.
She specialized in thermal engineering, as such specialists were needed, she found readily a job in ZPEC. The company looked much different than today, it was not as developed as now. It was based mainly on exploitation of several local boiler houses, heat was also purchased from the source, which looked much different then.
– I can affirm immodestly this new thermal system we have now in Zabrze has grown and was born with my participation – comments the director. – I dedicated to it much of my worktime and until now I have felt emotionally linked to this company.
She has never thought of changing the sector or about another workplace, perhaps because of…warm atmosphere she found here despite various spins and restructurings related to the company itself, but also to political compromises and the ownership status. She believes the core staff of the company contributes to creation of this friendly atmosphere, which she describes as being almost a family.
Most probably I am lucky enough to work with right people regardless of who they are- I mean my mentors, teachers, bosses or co-workers. They continue to empower me, we work together and we achieve the goal together and at the end it is aimed at a human being/man.
– I often repeat that if you spend one third of your life at work and I go there with real pleasure, then it is a big success – notices Elżbieta. – I was promoted quite early, as already after the internship I was granted a post of master. After less than three years of work she was promoted to the post of the operations manager and she started to supervise local boiler houses and those of housing estates and also thermal nets and thermal distribution facilities in the town. She was responsible for: the closure of individual boiler houses, connection of thermal net to the buildings, building new thermal distribution facilities, which are very modern, remote controlled via the Internet. Later, already as a director, she started to manage the section of investment and development, she approves the technical requirements, projects and she supervises their execution and accountability.
– We have also faced failures. Each was different depending on the place where they occured . It defined our reaction – says the director. – Generally, I am 24 hours a day on standby if needed. Now ZPEC utilises such a modern thermal system which has not had any serious failures for years.
One says about perversity of inanimate objects. That is why failures occur at the most unwanted and unexpected moments. The most difficult moment is to locate a failure, as it determines who and how long is going to be deprived of thermal energy. Later it is only about routine actions. I have managed to establish a fantastic operational team. Everyone knows own tasks and it is a wonderful feeling to know you can rely on somebody, which makes my job satisfying and that in turn causes satisfaction of clients or simply people.
Elżbieta recalls a frosty December night of 1977 when a dramatic fall of temperature occurred, just when everyone was leaving for the New Year’s Eve. ZPEC was also organizing a ball, it was raining and snowing, and then the temperature dropped to -20 Celsius degrees, so the sidewalks turned slippery. Everything got frozen, such an incredible frozen crust was formed at the fuel warehouse that it was impossible to fill up the steam boilers.
In that situation the director, the management and the workers had to give up the ball and go to the boiler house. Finally, the entire team was brought there and even that did not allow to eliminate the failure. The military unit stationing in Zabrze was helping the ZPEC workers for almost one month to crush the blocks of the frozen carbon dust so that the boiler house producers of thermal energy and the tenants did not feel results of harsh winter.
It happened also that at the Christmas Eve table, when breaking the wafer, she had to leave her family for a few hours. She rushed to work to supervise a quick removal of the failure so that the inhabitants of Zabrze did not freeze during Christmas. –When you love your job, it becomes your second home. I have nice memories of some inspections or rather visits of people working in boiler houses on Christmas. One can say that at times we spent Christmas together. I was criticised for that many times, well, perhaps it had to be that way – comments the director. -What astonishes me is that some of my female colleagues have burnt out professionally and that is why they want to retire- I do not think of that despite my 62 years of age.
Sharing energy with the homeless
Elżbieta has got involved in activities of the St. Albert’s Aid Society in the recent years, initially because ZPEC supplied heat to their building. It runs two buildings in Zabrze- one for women and the other one for men. She has met there a vigorous chairman, Ms Maria Demidowicz and they started to work well together.
– It is not even about financial support, we- as the thermal heating company are obliged to intervene in case of a failure in a proper time. They have known by now that if something goes wrong they call me, so we do what we are supposed to do – she comments. – It is however not all, we need to be together with these people. They organize regular meetings, I do not hide it that it is also connected to church service. Afterwards we sit drinking coffee, tea, we spend time together.Spending time together with the homeless, talking to them, showing them effective ways of coming back to normality gives me a lesson of humility. It teaches us what we possess in our lives is not given forever and that we can change a lot by the actions we undertake. Some of the guests of the homeless shelters have come out of homelessness, they have become self – reliant and they take part in these meetings too. They talk about their new lives, which makes people believe that such a change is possible. The inhabitants of the shelter work for the benefit of their shelter – they cook, clean or do some repairs, some of them are employed. They all have one basic condition to fulfill – to keep sober. It was alcohol, which madethe majority of them get stuck where they are now.
Elżbieta talks to the homeless about their duties in their premises, about family and their problems. She goes with them on trips, for example, to a regular feast of bread in June, which is celebrated by the Albertine Sisters in Cracow. She takes part in picnics, grill parties as she believes they need kindness and support of other people.