By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Climbing over a thousand stairs to fight lung cancer. That’s what hundreds of people will be doing on Saturday at the 17th annual Fight For Air Climb.

A beloved battalion chief is battling lung cancer that’s linked to firefighting, and the American Lung Association has established a new award in his honor.

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“I always knew that being a firefighter could someday kill me,” Battalion Chief John Narkin said. “It’s that dangerous.”

Narkin has been a Philadelphia firefighter for 27 years, surviving countless fires that left him with metastatic lung cancer.

“There’s no cure for what I have,” Narkin said. “Tired, it’s tiring. It’s, you know, it’s hard. The chemo does a lot to your body.”

Doctors say firefighters like Narkin face an increased risk of respiratory diseases related to breathing toxic substances from fires.

“The cancer aspect of things has come more to light recently with the science involved,” Narkin said.

Narkin will be getting a special tribute from the American Lung Association — an award in his name at the annual Fight For Air Climb.

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“I am deeply, deeply honored that the American Lung Association has decided to give an award in my name to the firefighter who raises the most money for the climb each year,” Narkin said.

Last year, the Air Climb was held outside at the ballpark. It raises awareness about lung cancer and money for research.

This year, the Air Climb will be back at Three Logan Square Covering — 50 floors, and 1,088 stairs.

“The firefighters in Philadelphia that are participating in the climb will be wearing our firefighting gear,” Engine Company 1 Lt. Corey Hullings said.

Hullings says the gear weighs about 50 pounds. He will be among about 100 firefighters carrying the extra load going up the stairs.

“We’re there for the overall cause of curing lung cancer and other lung diseases,” Hullings said, “but ultimately, we’re behind Chief Narkin this year.”

Narkin says he’ll be there Saturday but not climbing.

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The Air Climb starts at 7:30 a.m. at Three Local Square. For more information, click here.

Stephanie Stahl