Firefighting, as a vocation, dates back hundreds of years in Germany. In 1938, the Nazis nationalized the local fire departments, and made them a part of the police force. In large cities, volunteer fire departments augmented the full-time teams. During the war, compulsory fire departments were also formed. As with the members of any Third Reich civil organizations, the men in the various firefighting departments wore a variety of uniforms, from coveralls and work clothing, to dress uniforms. Firemen had to obtain their own edged weapons for ceremonial and formal occasions. They could choose to wear either a dress bayonet, or a dress axe. The dress axes were all privately purchased, though one could have received one as a presentation gift. There was no one set pattern for these, and they reflected individual taste. The simplest versions featured polished nickel heads, and black or brown wooden handles. More elaborate examples were also produced, some with ebony or even real ivory handles, and luxury gold fittings.